The Horror In Joseph Conrad's Heart Of Darkness

Improved Essays
The “Horror” in the Heart of Darkness
The Heart of Darkness is a novella that was written during the time of African imperialism. The continent was suffering moral and social sickness as it was being opened for exploration and commercial expansion. The Heart of Darkness is written through a series of different points of views, which makes the famous last words of Mr. Kurtz, “The Horror! The Horror!” so ambiguous. The author, Joseph Conrad, leaves it up to the reader to interpret the vague “horror” of the story through the narrator, Marlowe, and Mr. Kurtz himself. The introduction even suggests that Kurtz is a self-tortured and corrupted idealist that had succumbed to the dark temptations that African life posed to him [as a European](999). Perhaps the horror of it all could be a combination of everything Marlowe and Kurtz had experienced—the exploitation of Africa, the evil and terror within humanity, and Mr. Kurtz’s own depravity caused by his abuse of power.
The continent of Africa during this story was being explored by Europeans and was being opened up for commercial use. At this point, Africa was considered a “No man’s land” and the Europeans were seen as brave for taking a journey up the river “snake” into the Congo, a region of
…show more content…
Mr. Kurtz is used as a symbol of death within the heart of darkness. Although Conrad uses different perspectives, he portrays the horror through the scenes of the abused African land from European explorers, the evil within the society, and the downfall of the devilish Mr. Kurtz due to his somber pride over his success in the ivory trade. The whole story itself represents the journey to our death by finding the demons within us. The horror of the story is the inevitable death we all face and our lives, which are a “mysterious arrangement of merciless logic for a futile purpose” (Conrad

Related Documents

  • Improved Essays

    So after the witnessing his first “terrible spectacle,” Douglass comprehends the necessity of escaping this cruelty and becoming equal in the eyes of the law and man (2174). In conclusion, the novel Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave portrays the wicked effects slavery had on Caucasian Southerners and the cruelty African Americans faced because of it. Captain Anthony is an exemplary example of a slaveholder who took great “pleasure” in the abuse of slaves, but Douglass only pities his lack of morality and humanity. Captain Anthony’s “hardened” heart and corrupted soul are key components in the cancerous disease known as slavery that started and continues racial strife even…

    • 700 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    The employment of overall discrimination resulted from a perceived ability for one group of people to thrive while the other depleted i.e. Europeans and Africans respectively. By perpetrating a belief in superiority of color, culture, class, and creed a bigoted and harmful discourse was created that allotted many British Europeans conceit in their stature and revulsion to anyone different. Achebe was able to dissect this discourse in “Image of Africa” by thoroughly examining Conrad’s use of language in his novel and pinpoint exact racism. Referring to Africans as the other, as unearthly, and as “black shadows of disease and starvation” is if not unequivocal then compelling literary evidence that Conrad was indeed racist (Achebe 1789).…

    • 1050 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Great Essays

    African Colonialism in Conrad and Achebe In the minds of many Europeans, Africa was known as the “Dark Continent,” not because of the color of the skin of its inhabitants, but because large sections of the interior were simply unknown. By the late 19th century, British imperialism was beginning to penetrate into some of those unknown regions, bringing European government, religion, and attitudes to people otherwise deemed “savage.” The effect of this process of colonialism has been famously documented in two widely different novels, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (1902) and Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart (1959). Both of these writers, to great extent, portray the negative effects that colonialism had on the African people, with Conrad…

    • 1438 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Great Essays
  • Improved Essays

    In The Healers written by Ayi Kwei Armah, a fictional nineteenth century African world is corrupted by manipulation and deception. The Healers is based on deceit from the white settlers, whilst the “healers” are the inspiration to morally correct the entire community. The “healers” are seen as a potential threat to the power that the settlers have, which also leads to their ruination. Armah exploits the differences between the settlers and the African cultures. Due to Armah’s background of writing about “corruption…in contemporary Africa,” ("Ayi Kwei Armah | Ghanaian Writer,” n.d).…

    • 1682 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    The first narrator had a romanticized view of colonization however Marlow believed it to be destructive. Fresleven was another character Conrad used to convey the true heart of darkness, as it is implied that the darkness within Africa corrupted his perspective on life. Agents of the Company, whom Marlow refers to as pilgrims, serve to represent the transition the darkness within Africa to the true heart of darkness within the novel. The first narrator and Marlow supply contradicting beliefs…

    • 544 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    He also sees the reality of colonization which is visualised by the chain-gangs and the “grove of death” (Conrad 21) which portray dying Africans as they are mistreated and disregarded completely like the machines as opposed to the “miracle” (Conrad 20) Accountant who is well-dressed and ignorant of the suffering around him. The depraved and degraded existence of the natives provides an alternative reality for Europeans who are pulled away from a fantasy. Conrad displays the excessive ineptitude of colonists in Congo as they are fascinated by the rich resources found in Africa especially ivory marking the descent of Europeans into savagery. Heart of Darkness leaves an impression of Africa as the site of reduction of humanity for the colonizers and the colonized which is challenged by Chinua Achebe in “An Image of Africa”. Achebe alleged Conrad of being a “thoroughgoing racist” (213) due to his portrayal of Africa as “place of negations” (206) which dehumanizes Africans.…

    • 746 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    By analyzing Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad through a new criticism lens, one can see that the novella includes literary devices such as diction, symbolism, and similes to describe the cruel treatment of the natives and the imperialism in Africa. Throughout the Novella Conrad uses dark diction. On page 19, Conrad utilizes the word, “violent” to display…

    • 1199 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    There was a darkness of the natives skin as well as the racism that went through the company during the journey. Since the natives had been African the Europeans believed they were better than them and enslaved them into doing their labor. The Company as well as Kurts showed how dark “evil” they really were when they brutally tortured the natives if they didn 't listen. They were surrounded by the actual darkness of the Congo river which had been caused by the fog and the gloomy forest. In the story Kurtz symbolizes the evil in mankind considering his brutality amongst the natives while Marlow symbolizes the good as he never judged a character in the worst way he always saw the good in people such as the natives and cannibals.…

    • 1085 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    The African culture was decimated because of their savage ways of life. All countries and bodies of power that claimed their piece of Africa justified their hostility by educating a ferocious nation. They needed to provide for their mother countries or strong powers and because the African were a weaker people, it was their destiny to fall and not evolve due to their unfit nature. Other regions that were impacted by the African slave trade include… They were impacted by … The devastating impacts of the African slave trade still outlast the country and have…

    • 1255 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Improved Essays
  • Improved Essays

    Douglass states, “he was a cruel man, hardened by a long life of slaveholding” (20). Captain Anthony allows the pressures of slavery to outweigh his feelings for Aunt Hester. At this point Captain Anthony loses his…

    • 908 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Improved Essays