The Darkness In Joseph Conrad's Heart Of Darkness

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The “darkness” in the Heart of Darkness is not just one idea or meaning. The darkness is the unmapped world, the uncivilized Africans, the primeval animal within man, the colonists, the absence of morality, godlessness, civilization, nature, and death. By providing different contexts and forms for the darkness to appear Conrad constantly changes the meaning of it. The darkness is not something that can be defined by one meaning because it is never constant. The elusiveness and impenetrability of the darkness are the qualities that cause the darkness to be dark. If the enigma was solved, then the darkness could no longer exist.

The words “the horror, the horror” reveal that Kurtz has enough humanity remaining to feel revulsion in a world of
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Kurtz’s last words emphasize his belief in a godless universe and his rage against it. During his time in the heart of darkness Kurtz struggles for a way out of the godless modern condition. He first attempts to fill the void by becoming his own God: ‘“Everything belonged to him—but that was a trifle. The thing was to know what he belonged to, how many powers of darkness claimed him for their own’” (Conrad 60). Kurtz has become a manmade God, but that power ultimately swallows him. Humans are unfit to handle that kind of power because we are not omniscient and guided by good. We are easily corrupted and destroyed. After his failure as a God, Kurtz becomes the living embodiment of death. As he lays on his death bed, he comes to the realization ‘“live rightly, die, die’” (Conrad 86). A godless universe is too cruel, and the only way to live in such a world is to die and exterminate everything. Kurtz not only embodies death, he also embraces it, masters it, and wills it. He uses dying as a form of protest against the godless universe. Kurtz also touches upon the inner emptiness of human desire. When Marlow talks about Kurtz, he says ‘“there was something wanting in him—some small matter which, when the pressing need arose, could not be found’” (Conrad 72). There is something, not just in Mr. Kurtz, but in the human condition that creates a lack when there is fullness. There is a constant emptiness within us that causes us to never be completely satisfied. The materialism of the modern condition stems from this inner lack. Humans seek material possessions because we are hollow at our

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