Heart of Darkness – an Inward Journey

Topics: White people, Human, Africa Pages: 6 (2373 words) Published: April 25, 2007
Human nature is like a coin, it has two sides. One of them is in some sort artificial, created by teachings of different religions, by living in society and by the rules that our parents taught us, and is thought to be this good one. The other one defines our true self, it is our primal nature, the dark half of human beings. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad tries to deal with this essence of darkness that sleeps somewhere within us.

Title Heart of Darkness may have two meanings. One can relate to the center of Africa, The Black Land, and the other to the human soul. Conrad describes Africa as a place of darkness , however, this darkness it thought to be brought, by the white people. Africa was land unknown to white men, but it was no different than Europe: And this also... has been one of the dark places of the earth . It was the white men who disturbed peaceful life of Africa’s inhabitants. Colonists are said to be men enough to face the darkness , but in fact, they were nothing else than the darkness itself for the black people. They invaded their land full of selfishness and greed, took them captive and used them for their own purposes. They were the cause of death for many of native inhabitants of Africa. They were brought from all the recesses of the coast in all the legality of time contracts, lost in uncongenial surroundings, fed on unfamiliar food, they sickened, became inefficient, and were the allowed to crawl away and rest .

Amusing paradox and contrast can be noticed. White people (white as symbol of good) are described as the civilized society fighting against uncivilized, inhuman black savages, (black as symbol of evil) who can be a great danger for white men. In fact, those white people, are only seemingly civilized, inside they are rotten to the bone. On their own land they may behave in civilized way, because their doings can be judged, but when on foreign land, where is no control, where they are the ones who have the power, their true nature become unleashed and they turn into savages one hundred times worse than black people, who are harmless, and only tried to live their own life.

It seems that among all colonists only Marlow noticed that those “savages” were also people: the men were—No, they were not inhuman. Well, you know, that was the worst of it—the suspicion of their not being inhuman. It would come slowly to one. They howled and leaped, and spun, and made horrid faces; but what thrilled you was just the thought of their humanity—like yours—the thought of your remote kinship with this wild and passionate uproar . However, Marlow do not think of them as equals but kind of primitive version of himself. He do has some sympathy for them, but still he consider them inferior to white race. It may be due to the influence of Kurtz and rest of the soulless colonists, whose only aim is to enrich by the cost of black people work and the life of elephants, whose ivory they later sold. Before Marlow departs for Africa, he believes it to be surrounded with "darkness" because it is mostly unexplored. After he spends some time there, he discovers that the metaphorical darkness is due to ignorance and blatant arrogance by European exploiters whose moral system is corrupt. Yet, Marlow, who at the beginning was not tainted and was shocked by the view that he saw when he arrived to Africa, later changed his attitude slightly when influenced by the colonists views. He still has a lot of empathy for black natives and he pity them, but small changes caused by ‘imperialistic machine’ can be noticed in his behavior. This proves that human beings can be easily manipulated and influenced. Even the most righteous person can be spoiled if put into improper environment.

Heart of Darkness deals also with destructive impact of imperialism. Bid for power and new lands is more important than human lives. Territorial expansion is the conquest of the earth,...
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