Depiction Of Ambiguity In Joseph Conrad's Heart Of Darkness

1360 Words 6 Pages
Heart of Darkness Essay

I am unsurprised that a novel designed to elicit confusion and mystery achieves just that in its concluding remarks. By providing the reader an ending filled with ambiguity and uncertainty, Joseph Conrad effectively concludes his novel Heart of Darkness in a way that makes it frustrating yet memorable. Specifically, Conrad’s ability to extend themes developed throughout the novel, connect his ending to broader historical trends and continue the employment of a unique narrative structure is what makes the ending of Heart of Darkness appropriate.
On a thematic level, Conrad’s concluding remarks prove successful in demonstrating the novel’s overarching idea of European ignorance. In the ending scene, the Intended, a female
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He makes a conscious decision in not telling the Intended the truth, but the way in which he is speaking demonstrates how he is struggling with that decision. As the scene progresses, Marlow’s speaking transitions from “mumbled” to “shakily” and finally to “the point of crying at her” as he becomes less comfortable speaking with the Intended. This is similarly reflected in his words. In this scene, Marlow makes ironic remarks with a double meaning that ease the Intended with a positive image of Kurtz while also giving the reader a negative image, such as “his end was in every way worthy of his life.” Towards the end, however, Marlow directly lies in order to comfort the Intended. The most prominent example is Marlow telling the Intended that the last words of Kurtz were her name. He does this to not only comfort the Intended and mitigate her distress, but also because he doesn’t believe she can handle it. At one point, Marlow almost cried at her to “hear” the whispers that surrounded her, the ones that menacingly told Marlow Kurtz’s final lines: “The horror! The horror!” Despite the internal push Marlow was feeling to divulge who Kurtz truly was, he realizes telling it to the Intended was pointless. Corroborating this idea is Conrad’s motif of whispers in this context which represents the …show more content…
Marlow rests like a “meditating Buddha” ready for his next exploitation of the Congo, seemingly accepting of imperialism. This fundamentally contradicts the audience’s understanding of Marlow, as he now seems not only acclimated, but also comfortable with colonialism, despite his horrific experiences. The reader is left confused by the main character, and just generally uncertain, as Conrad imparts the ambiguity of a world that may or may not escape ignorance in his ending. And thus is the very nature of Heart of Darkness. It confuses, it disorients, and accordingly, it endures as a work analyzed for over a century. Conrad’s ability to maintain his uniquely bamboozling compsition is frustrating yet necessary to illustrate the inherent confusion of the Heart of Darkness, and create an appropriate

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