Heart Of Darkness


Heart of Darkness
By: Joseph Conrad

The novel Heart of Darkness, was written by a man named Joseph Conrad in 1894. Conrad was born December 3, 1857 into a family of polish decent in the northern Ukraine. The backgrounds of his family members consisted of a father that was an avid translator of Shakespeare as well as poet, along with a mother, that while was prone to illness still was well read and very intelligent. When Conrad was five, his father was exiled into a prison camp in Northern Russia for alleged revolutionist plots against the government. Due to the harsh conditions of the prison, Conrad?s mother died within three years and his father four years later. It was the death of his father that sent Joseph into a fit of melancholy, and it was within this sadness that Joseph turned to writing to ease his grief and carried his pain and suffering into most of his novels. After finishing his education in Krakow, Poland, Joseph went to sea, and from there sailed on and off for the next twenty years. These twenty years were the basis if not the absolute pure nautical theme that flows throughout many of his novels. Stories such as Lord Jim and Heart of Darkness are based upon true to life experiences that Joseph had while at sea. Another unique aspect of Conrad?s writing, would be the lack of simple romance within all of his novels. This lack of emotional passion is most likely due to a drastic love affair when he was 17 that ended with an attempt to end his own life. Of Conrad?s many works some include Nostromo, Typhoon, The Secret Agent, and perhaps his most famous work Chance, which made him an instant celebrity within literary circles. From his world-renowned success, Conrad became very rich, and paraded himself as the typical aristocratic high-hat, and for the most part was allowed to play this role, until his death in 1524 from a heart attack. He died and was buried at his home in Canterbury, England.
Within the actual story, Heart of Darkness, Conrad takes us into the mind and morals of a sailor named Marlow as he treks through the literal "Heart of Darkness." This actual land is found deep within the dark jungles of the Congo River region of Africa, and serves as the central setting for this story. Throughout his journey, Marlow is confronted with the atrocities of slavery, and the cruelty that some men express to men whose only difference is the color of their skin, and legend of man that so few have seen. Finding himself in a land of greed and despair, Marlow dully meets through the words of others, his predecessor, Kurtz, who is known as a brilliant man that has dominated the ivory hunting and shipping business. Yet, as Marlow comes closer to Kurtz and to the end of his journey, the perception of Kurtz becomes increasingly more evil at his core. When Marlow finally meets with Kurtz, he finds a man completely lost within the scorn of his morals, and within this shell of man, Marlow sees seeds of disdain within himself. It is up to Marlow to put his morals under scrutiny, and decide whether or not to compromise his values for the sake of wealth and worldly possessions.
As we explore the depths of this story, we encounter the many different attitudes of the various characters that inhabit the novel. Although there are many characters within the story, no character can compare with the emotional battles that the protagonist Marlow faces within himself. From his personal standpoint, we can see and feel the distress that radiates from his body, knowing that it is always easier to give into expectations, than to take a stand for one?s self. As matters of the heart and soul bear their weight upon Marlow?s heart, he must confront his inner most demons, recognize " his own wild and savage potential," and see beyond the false glory and prestige that the infamous Kurtz possesses. It is through Kurtz, that we see the hidden potential for Marlow to mutate into the "frightful" man whose "soul [had become] mad." All this anxiety builds to whether or not Marlow possess the ability to turn away from the madness that can grow within men?s hearts and overtake their souls.
It is through Marlow?s character as