Theme Of Symbolism In Heart Of Darkness

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“He struggled with himself, too. I saw it -- I heard it. I saw the inconceivable mystery of a soul that knew no restraint, no faith, and no fear, yet struggling blindly with itself.” (Conrad, 140). This isolation and internal conflict, within Kurtz, is the epitome of what occurs when one is caught in a seemingly inescapable situation; losing all unnecessary components of life and relying purely on instinct and intuition. Joseph Conrad compels the readers to question the ways of thinking that occur when surrounded by the unknown. In his novel, Heart of Darkness, it is crucial to analyze Marlow’s confusion when his high expectations for his findings in the Congo disappoint him. This confusion, seen as a symbol for the loss of identity, can occur …show more content…
Kurtz is first described as a “remarkable man” (134) , an “emissary of pity and science and progress”(83). Conrad uses this powerful diction, to symbolize the man Kurtz was known to be upon departing for the Congo. When seeing Kurtz for the first time, Marlow watches him “[rise], unsteady, long, pale, indistinct, like a vapour exhaled by the earth, and [sway] slightly, misty and silent before [him]” (128). Conrad lists ghostly adjectives to persuade the reader of Kurtz’s indeterminate identity. Comparing Kurtz to a vapor coming from the earth, Conrad is bringing forth the idea that Kurtz is slowly becoming a part of the trapping Congo. The larger than life reputation Kurtz had left Europe with had only been preserved by his loss of communication with the outside world, while in the interior of the Congo, Kurtz withered away and was no longer the figure of his former glory. In a similar way, Marlow also lost parts of himself to the Congo. He surrendered his belief that the Congo is a “delightful mystery--- a white patch for a boy to dream gloriously over” (59). Instead he faces the harsh realities of his surroundings and hides behind them once he returns to London. He had come back to tell Kurtz’s intendent of his death, but could not utter the truth for “it would have been too dark--- to dark altogether” (155). Conrad characterizes Marlow as a changed man; a man of silence and fear from his own experiences, experiences he had been all to excited to have, but had been diminished once he was faced with the reality of the Congo. This symbolizes the that the Congo will always remain a place of mystery; one either capitulates in the midst of it or lives not to tell the tale. In this way, Conrad successfully corroborates both these outcomes and substantiates a loss of identity in

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