Heart Of Darkness Rhetorical Analysis

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Heart of Darkness – different readings

IN the Novel Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad, Marlow’s Journey down the Congo River can be construed to be metaphoric of many different readings including a psychoanalytical interpretation, a mythical interpretation or a Historical reading. The psychoanalytical approach sees Marlow’s Journey to be a journey into the human psyche and inner consciousness as he goes further down the river. In creating this sense, Conrad has used religious symbols, a more dream-like setting further into his journey and the characterisation of Kurtz. The Mythical approach interprets Marlow’s journey as a reverse romance in which Marlow is on a quest for the truth or in other words Kurtz. Conrad uses inversion
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At the time, Freud and Nietzsche were both looking at the human condition and the inner psyche, and this novel seems to be a continuation of those ideas as Marlow delves into his inner consciousness in search of truth. The symbol of Marlow as a Buddha at the beginning conveys the idea that he is contemplative and soul-searching. Furthermore the progression of his character into a dream-like world throughout the novel perpetrates this idea of Marlow coming face to face with the human condition. For example, as Marlow nears Kurtz’s station fog comes down giving everything an “eerie, dream-like appearance.” This is further demonstrated in the idea that Marlow is entering a nightmare with “tumultuous and mournful shrieking” with the rest of the world “swept off without leaving a whisper or a shadow behind.” The creation of this dream-like setting by Conrad creates the idea that Marlow is travelling through his consciousness, as if this is his own nightmare. Marlow is searching for a distinct truth of the human condition and this is symbolised by Kurtz. Kurtz, a European renaissance man of culture and nobility who came to this dark place comes to embody mankind itself. His fall from refinement to savagery highlights this fall to the true human condition where repressed desires and lusts are set loose. He dances with the savages and plants heads on poles for no other reason than that he desires to and appears to have “kicked himself loose from the world”. Though Marlow glimpses this truth of the human psyche he, as Kelly Jacobs says, “stares over the edge but does not fall as Kurtz does.” That said, Marlow does not find the truth he is searching for and in the end his journey into the psyche is inconclusive. When he meets Kurtz’s intended he lies to her about Kurtz’s final moral judgement, “the horror” highlighting the fact that the truth may be

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