IB Language Arts
Written Task Two
The Heart of Darkness is a novella written by Joseph Conrad. In this book the main character, Marlow, ventures up the Nile River to find a man named Kurtz. As he continues his journey up river he experiences a vast range of emotions and situations that are putting him to the test to see if he can keep his sanity. One of the situations he encounters are the natives of the Congo. At first they are seen as the primitive savage-like people that live in the darkness of Congo. Their way of life seems so out of the norm that there is no way that Marlow could ever understand or feel equal with them. As his journey continues to find Kurtz, he starts to understand their way of life and figure out the meanings of darkness. In the heart of darkness, Joseph Conrad uses the narrator, Marlow, to portray the evolution of mind on how the idea of darkness is a misconception, and by the end of the novella, the once “primitive savages” are in reality Marlow’s equals.
In the beginning of the voyage up the river Marlow’s mindset on the natives is more of, they live an uncivilized life, killing their own people. Marlow thinks his way of life is more civilized. Eating with forks, wearing shoes. But what Marlow doesn’t see is the point of view of the natives. He doesn’t take into consideration of their definition of norm, their definition of civilized. Marlow thinks that his way is the only right way. The natives are civilized in their own way. The way they were brought up and the way they live.
Later on in the journey Marlow’s traditional views of imperialists starts to fade, the people that don’t see the conquered natives as humans. “It was unearthly, and the men were-No, they were not inhuman. Well, you know, that was the worst of it-this 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. Ugly. Yes, it was ugly enough; but if you were man enough you would admit to yourself that there was in you just the faintest trace of a response to the terrible frankness of that noise, a dim suspicion of there being a meaning in it which you-you so remote from the night of fist ages-could comprehend” He starts to develop a tiny kinship with the natives. He starts to understand their screams. Marlow develops a place in his mind that understands where they are coming from and that everyone has some barbarian inside them. Its natural and it is normal.
At the end of the journey Marlow doesn’t consider the natives his equal. He views them more as animals or pets. That you can teach them but and they can learn the meaning but not the significance. Essentially it’s like a parent trying to get their kid to stay in bed by telling them there is a monster under it. They will learn commands but they will not reach the full level of sophistication that he has.