Joseph Conrad Was Confused

Powerful Essays
Joseph Conrad Was Confused
People would think Heart of Darkness was about imperialism. It is true that the novel was mainly about imperialism. However, it was not fully about imperialism. Other meaningful topics inside the story are just overshadowed by it, and homosexual desire is one of them. In Heart of Darkness, in spite of its ambiguity, homosexual desire was implied in certain parts of the story. For instance, Kurtz’s “unspeakable rites” (Conrad 50), involving “various lusts” (Conrad 57), were, Andrew Michael Roberts argues, not about imperialism or cannibalism, for it was not unspeakable to Conrad. He had talked about them when the African cannibals were mentioned or as the book was used to accuse European society of being imperialism. Then, what Kurtz did had to be even more unspeakable, at least to Conrad: homosexuality (Roberts 459-460). Nothing was specified by Conrad or by Marlow. Nevertheless, homosexuality is a clear and proper conclusion out of the context, and it is unspeakable. The ambiguous yet undeniable homosexual desire in Heart of Darkness is a demonstration of Joseph Conrad’s confused sexuality, and also a way for him to express his own mixed feelings regarding to it.
One of the evidences of homosexual desire in the novel was showcased when Marlow told his audience on the Nellie, the ship, about how he thought of Kurtz: “This is the reason why I affirm that Kurtz was a remarkable man. He had something to say. He said it. Since I had peeped over the edge myself, I understand better the meaning of his stare…he had stepped over the edge, while I had been permitted to draw back my hesitating foot…” (Conrad 70). Marlow thought Kurtz was remarkable, for Kurtz could say things he could not, and for Kurtz “had stepped over the edge”, an edge that Marlow could only peep over but not dare to jump off. That means it is an edge that both Kurtz and Marlow knew, an edge that both of them had encountered in their lives. One would wonder what kind of edge



Cited: Bradley, Anthony. “Hearts of Darkness: Conrad, Casement, and the Congo.” ARIEL 34.2-3 (2003): 197-214 Conrad, Joseph. “Heart of Darkness.” Heart of Darkness. 4th ed. Paul B. Armstrong. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, INC., 2006. 3-77. Print. Dryden, Linda. “Conrad & Homosexuality.” English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920 52.4 (2009): 492-494. Project MUSE Harrington, Ellen Burton. “Homosexuality in the Life and Work of Joseph Conrad: Love Between the Lines (review).” Conradiana 42.1 (2010): 171-177. Project MUSE Oct. 2012. Lewis, Brian. “The Queer Life and Afterlife of Roger Casement.” Journal of the History of Sexuality 14.4 (2005): 363-382 Packer-Kinlaw, Donna. “‘Ain 't We Men?’: Illusions of Gender In Joseph Conrad 's The Nigger of the “Narcissus”.” Conradiana 38.3 (2006): 247-265. Academic Search Premier. Web. 24 Oct. 2012. Straus, Nina Pelikan. “The Exclusion of the Intended from Secret Sharing in Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’.” NOVEL: A Forum on Fiction 20.2 (1987): 123-137

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Powerful Essays

    it fair to call Joseph Conrad a Thoroughgoing Racist? To call someone a thoroughgoing racist is to say that they are a person who completely and knowingly considers one race of humans superior to others. This is precisely what Chinua Achebe is accusing Joseph Conrad of. It is Achebe’s opinion that Conrad wrote his ‘Heart of Darkness’ from a racist point of view intentionally to belittle Africa and its people and to raise up Europe and its people. While I agree that Joseph Conrad may have been a…

    • 1937 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    joseph conrad

    • 1997 Words
    • 8 Pages

    Joseph Conrad grew up in the Polish Ukraine, Polish Ukraine is a huge, fertile plain between the counties of Poland and Russia. Polish Ukrainewas a divided nation, that held four languages, four religions, and various of different social classes. Many of the families inethis area were Polish-speaking inhabitants, including Conrad 's family. They belonged to the szlachta, a hereditary class in the aristocracy on the social hierarchy, combining qualities of gentry and nobility. Despite the areas poor…

    • 1997 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Joseph Conrad

    • 1834 Words
    • 8 Pages

    Joseph Conrad: An Innovator in British Literature Joseph Conrad 's innovative literature is influenced by his experiences in traveling to foreign countries around the world. Conrad 's literature consists of the various styles of techniques he uses to display his well-recognized work as British literature. "His prose style, varying from eloquently sensuous to bare and astringent, keeps the reader in constant touch with a mature, truth-seeking, creative mind" (Hutchinson 1). Conrad 's novels…

    • 1834 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    Joseph Conrad Imperialism

    • 683 Words
    • 3 Pages

    The Real Horror Through the Words of Conrad The horror of Imperialism haunts Africa even today, and this suffering was greedily created by the Europeans for power and resources. The Europeans concluded they were helping the Africans like the Romans who helped the Europeans, but in reality they created intense chaos. One brave man, Joseph Conrad, spoke out against the hostility that the Europeans projected onto Africa through his controversial book, The Heart of Darkness. In order to reveal the unjust…

    • 683 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Joseph Conrad Imperialism

    • 1287 Words
    • 6 Pages

    with imperialistic ideals. With imperialism came the praise and promotion of the imperialistic ideas. However, unlike other times in history where a nation had taken over another, there was criticism written by some of the writers living in the imperialistic countries. Two of these writers were Joseph Conrad, who wrote Heart of Darkness, and George Orwell, who wrote “Shooting an Elephant”. Both of their pieces comments on the dark side of imperialism and the effects it has on the colonized states…

    • 1287 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    Joseph Conrad, original name Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski (born Dec. 3, 1857, Berdichev, Ukraine, Russian Empire [now Berdychiv, Ukraine]—died Aug. 3, 1924, Canterbury, Kent, Eng.), English novelist and short-story writer of Polish descent, whose works include the novels Lord Jim (1900), Nostromo(1904), and The Secret Agent (1907) and the short story “Heart of Darkness” (1902). During his lifetime Conrad was admired for the richness of his prose and his renderings of dangerous life at sea and…

    • 2525 Words
    • 11 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Powerful Essays

    long to have credible literary merit. Such is the case with Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. Heart of Darkness is quite short, yet superior and intriguing, due to the content of the novel. Heart of Darkness is intriguing, like Hamlet or like a Kafka novel, in that readers taken by power of the story never feel quite satisfied with their attempts to intellectualize the experience (Adelman 8). Heart of Darkness was written during the time of British imperialism and extreme exploitation of Africans…

    • 2780 Words
    • 8 Pages
    Powerful Essays
  • Good Essays

    Joseph Conrad date of birth was December 3, 1857 (“Joseph” 1). This was the beginning of a wave that will never wash away. Conrad was just a polish child in a dangerous world. At this time, Poland was fighting Russia to gain back its land. Conrad escaped the reality by dreaming of traveling all over the seas (“Joseph” 1). Conrad was eight when he was first educated about the English language. His father read him Shakespeare and other English writers (“Joseph Conrad” 1). Conrad as passion for geography;…

    • 1114 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    Critics and reviewers who have read Joseph Conrad 's, Heart of Darkness, have had many different views upon the novel, mostly believing that Conrad’s piece of work is either racist or sexist. As I read the story, with pre­ awareness of human cruelty and inequality between the Europeans and Africans/natives, I did not believe Conrad was a racist nor his work reflected the kind of man Conrad was, even though there may have been points in the story that indicate whether or not he was racist, we must unders…

    • 855 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Better Essays

    In Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, one can draw many theories as to what Conrad's views of African Colonization are. One of the most obvious and monotonous themes of this novel would be African racism and discrimination. So, did Conrad write this novel as a way to condone the acts of savage European imperialism and slavery, or, to make us realize what they did was unethical? I believe he was a racist, and you will soon come to see why. Picture yourself streaming down on the…

    • 906 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Better Essays