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"The Heart of Darkness" - a short review

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Introduction

Written by Joseph Conrad in the early 20th century, "The Heart of Darkness" is a short and yet fantastic novel, which reveals the darkest sides of human nature. The story takes place in the mystical and savage jungle of Congo, where the European civilization and its devastating imperialism mixes with primitive cultures of our history, creating a disturbing environment like no other. The simple and ignorant minds are filled with fear while all their superior relatives know is conquest, ivory, greed, money and authority. Marlow's journey takes him up the Congo River, which is surrounded by a thick and endless jungle filled with mystery and savage surprises. Africa is currently at the peak of its European conquest as it remains quite uncivilized and yet ruled by the white men. This tension can be felt in the air, as Marlow describes the jungle atmosphere as in "thick, moist, hot, unbearable and heavy." The dense growth in the jungle makes it extremely dark and the river is brown from the dirt that is swirled around. The strange and primitive appearances, actions and screams of the natives in the grip of the "civilized" and developed white men makes the setting that more disturbing. ...read more.

Middle

Conrad tries to show us how a piece of Kurtz is hidden in all of us, waiting for an opportunity to be freed from its prison of civilization and justice. We all posses the potential to destroy and exterminate; however we never have a chance to develop such thinking. There is a great mental clash in Marlow's mind, between his moral ideals and this new idea of dark superiority. Even though Kurtz disgusts him, he admires the extraordinary change in his mind, as he transforms from a wise and ambitious commander into an evil creature which only understand two phrases, "ivory" and "exterminate." Marlow is able to explore the horror of humanity without actually being involved in it. He takes this as a great privilege and does not close his eyes from the darkness that is radiating from all sides of the jungle. Instead he tries to learn everything about this evil phenomenon and is even afraid Kurtz will die before he is able to reach him and make conversation. The story reaches its climax just as Marlow arrives at station and is ready to meet with Kurtz. ...read more.

Conclusion

He is like a helpless drugatic, and the free environment of the jungle and the primitive people who are easy to dominate over, provide his sole with the most powerful and devastating drugs. Just like a drugatic, Kurtz knows that what he is doing is wrong, and yet he cannot reverse the process of addiction that eventually leads to insanity and death. As a drugatic gets lost in the sensation of being "high", Kurtz frequently got lost in the jungle for weeks, where he wondered around finding ivory and terrorizing anybody and anything in his way, satisfying his hunger and desires from his dark and infected mind. Just before he dies, Kurtz screams, "horror, horror!" He realizes the evil that has overtaken him, and how it slowly destroyed and killed his mind. After Kurtz's death Marlow returns back to Europe, however, he would never again look at people as he did before. He feels like the common public is ignorant of the little thorns living within them; just waiting to be watered and grow into dark poisonous wines that could twist and strangle through anybody. Kurtz continues to live in Marlow, and would remind him of the terror and horror, hidden in the heart of the jungle and in the heart of each one of us. 1 ...read more.

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