Heart of Darkness


Heart of Darkness ?gHeart of Darkness?h, written by Joseph Conrad, holds thematically a wide range of references to problems of politics, morality and social order. It was written in a period when European exploitation of Africa was at a gruesome height. Conrad uses double oblique narration. A flame narrator reports the story as told by Marlow, assigned to the command of a river steamboat scheduled to transport an exploring expedition. Kurtz is a first-agent at an important trading post of ivory, located in the interior of the Congo. Both Marlow and Kertz found the reality through their work in Africa. Marlow felt great indignation with people in the sepulchral city after his journey to the Congo region because he discovered, through his work, the reality of the universe, such as the great virtue of efficiency, the darkness in society and individuals and the surface reality. When Kurtz found himself on his deathbed and he said ?gThe horror, The horror referring to his life in inner Africa, which caused him disintegration. Marlow emphasized the virtue of ?gefficiency?h throughout the story because he thought of it as the only way to survive in the wilderness. After seeing the dying natives in the forest of the outer station, Marlow described them as ?ginefficient.?h Under ?gthe devotion to efficiency,?h incompetent people were excluded from society. Only efficient people can survive. For example, since Kurtz was the most efficient agent, with regards to producing ivory, his employers respected his achievement and regarded him as an essential person. However, once he fell into disintegration, he was considered no more the than dying natives and thus was treated as if he were dead. He was then buried in the darkness. The symbol of inefficiency was the color green. Marlow illustrated a picture of dying natives, when he said, ?g[They were] black shadows of disease and starvation lying confusedly in the greenish gloom?h(20). Another example of inefficiency is shown in the description of the body of Marlow?fs predecessor as ?gThe grass growing through his ribs was tall enough to hide his bones?h(13). Marlow realized the real darkness did not existed in Africa but in Europe, and not in Africans but in Europeans who engaged in colonial exploitation, including Kurtz. Due to the natives?f physical features and customs like cannibalism, Marlow defined Africans as the darkness. On the other hand, he considered Europeans as the light because of his illusions of civilization. After witnessing the evil practices of the colonizers in the Congo, Marlow discovered the moral darkness in whites. European invaders in Africa dehumanized natives under the name of enlightenment for the sake of profit. They practiced no moral laws and inflicted callous and barbaric cruelty on indigenous people. Marlow?fs description of the Company?fs offices in Paris revealed his discovery: A narrow and deserted street in deep shadow, high houses, innumerable windows with venetian blinds, a dead silence, grass sprouting between the stones, imposing carriage archways right and left, immense double doors standing ponderously ajar?h(13). Moreover, the older woman at the offices was like a gatekeeper of ?gDarkness.?h These descriptions indicated that the real darkness was in greedy whites, who were without moral sense, thus dark-skinned natives were victims of darkness of whites. Through his work in the Congo, Marlow found only ?gsurface truths,?h which had been adulterated and concealed by European culture, not core truths. The reason why ?gthe meaning of episode [for him is] not inside like a kernel but outside?h(9) was that Marlow?fs viewpoint was trapped in these surface truths. He could not touch the inside of the kernel because he did not go deep enough. Furthermore, he just watched and judged things from the outside. Marlow expressed, ?htruth stripped of its cloak of time ?c -the man knows and can look on without a wink. But he must meet at least be as much as of a man as these on the shore. He must meet that truth with his own true stuff-with his own inborn strength?h(38). Not only did he have a fear of natives, but also he refused to be like them. Since natives were, for Marlow, savage and mean-spirited fellows, he would not debase himself. Marlow used work as a pretext. Mowever, he acquired ?gsurface truths?h in the Congo region by handling the steamboat in the ?gfiendish row.?h On the other hand, Kurts went to natives and found the heart of