The Meaning of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness Essay examples

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The Meaning of Heart of Darkness

Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness has a symbolic meaning behind its title like many other great works of literature. The title can actually be interpreted in many different ways. One way the title can be looked at is that it portrays how Conrad viewed the continent of Africa. It might also represent entering into a more primitive society, witnessing humans transforming from civilized to savage. Perhaps the Heart of Darkness refers to the colonialism and imperialism that the Europeans were practicing at the turn of the 20th century.

In the setting that Joseph Conrad gives the characters in the Heart of Darkness, Africa was still greatly unexplored by Europeans. It was thought by many
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Critics and the descriptions from the book seem to point to the fact that Europeans and perhaps Conrad viewed the European unexplored Africa as the heart of darkness.

We are all animals, we act civilized because it is our society and culture that looks down upon turning to innate savage forces. Conrad shows that being removed from our normal societal beliefs and placed in an alien society can have great psychological effects on humans. He shows how Kurtz entered the jungle in a reasonable state of mind and how he turns to the primitive ways of the natives and looses touch with western civilization. This is yet another interpretation as to what the meaning of the Heart of Darkness is; that is to say that journeying into an alien society can be like journeying back into the dark side of man, the basic animalistic side. Many critics tend to agree with this idea about the meaning of the title. In the Heart of Darkness, Marlow describes how one can be turned to the most primitive side of man,

…-With solid pavement under your feet, surrounded by kind neighbors ready to cheer you or fall on you, stepping delicately between the butcher and the policeman, in the holy terror of scandal and gallows and lunatic asylums-how can you imagine what particular region of the first ages a man’s untrammeled feet may take him into by the way of solitude- utter solitude without a policeman- by the way of

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