Heart of Darkness
A review of Heart of Darkness by Rob Mason
Heart of Darkness is a short history based novel by Joseph Conrad. The story is about a voyage up the Congo River into the Congo Free State, in the heart of Africa, by the story's narrator Charles Marlow. Marlow tells his story to friends aboard a boat anchored on the River Thames, London, England. The implication is that London and Africa are places of darkness. It is also suggested that there is little difference between so-called civilized people and those described as savages; therefore Heart of Darkness raises important questions about imperialism and racism.
Joseph Conrad acknowledged that Heart of Darkness was in part based on his own experiences during his travels in Africa. In 1890, at the age of 32, when Conrad began to write the novella, eight years after returning from Africa, he drew inspiration from his travel journals.
The story explains how a young Englishman; Marlow goes out to Africa to seek his fortune. He is at first idealistic, and full of himself. However he quickly realises that Africa is full of petty bureaucrats who have no idea how to make use of this dark jewel they have acquired. Like Colonists before them, they proceed to ravage and plunder the land of its natural resources. Enter Kurtz, an Ivory Trader who has gone Native. He has become a Renegade, living with his Black mistress in the heart of Africa's interior; systematically turning his back on his supposed civilised self.
Marlow meets Kurtz after an eventful trip up the Congo and finds himself curiously attracted to this strange man who is [very ill], and obviously going insane. Kurtz in turn is an embarrassment to his employers who would rather see him dead than returned to "civilization." Of course this is unspoken, but the hypocrisy of human natures is self-evident, especially as Kurtz is one of the best Ivory Traders on the Congo route.
Marlow struggles to understand Kurtz and what makes him tick, but he only touches the surface of a man who can live in neither the Black or White world comfortably. He has been [harmed] by both worlds and therefore he is cursed. Heart of Darkness has many facets; it is a story about Imperialism, racism, and the darkness of human nature. Conrad purposely leaves the ending open to interpretation. ...