• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

The overall view of human nature in heart of darkness shown through the characters.

Extracts from this document...


Deepak Mathews 11F 3. The overall view of human nature in heart of darkness shown through the characters. In the book Heart of Darkness, Conrad gives us a negative impression of human nature. Conrad's views of human nature are very pessimistic and he gives us the feeling that humans are in fact inhuman and as we read on these terrible images of the evil deeds of humans keeps reoccurring. In reality many of human characteristics we possess resemble those given in the book. However, we also catch glimpses of the caring and helpful side of man shown through Marlow and the Russian. The author uses different characters to explore different aspects of human nature. Each character has his own distinctive identity and through his individuality we are able to identify with many of the views and ideas Conrad is trying to communicate. In order to fully understand the concepts of human nature, we have to classify the characters in the novel into three different categories. The first category is comprised of the Europeans, but excludes Kurtz and Marlow. The reason Marlow doesn't fit with the Europeans is because he refuses to follow their example and act as they do. Kurtz meanwhile has drifted into his own little world. The second category is made up of the natives, while Kurtz and Marlow together form the third category. ...read more.


(p.61). Their behaviour on the boat, their will to work even though they are paid nothing and how they eat practically nothing are demonstrations of a great character strength, which Marlow envies. The image of the "savages" keeps reappearing in the text. The fireman is described as the "...savage who was a fireman..." (p.63) Here Marlow is expressing his view that all the natives are savages, even the ones Marlow considers decent. The image he describes "...and he had filed teeth, too, the poor devil, and the wool of his pate shaved into queer patterns and three ornamental scars of his cheeks" (p.64) seems to apply to all natives. Marlow's views about the natives seem to contradict each other, but he probably trying to say that the natives are seen as the savages from the outside are decent people on the inside. From the information the book gives us we can make a valid comparison between natives and the Europeans. The Africans, on one hand, are uncivilized people, who actually have sense. On the other hand, the Europeans regard themselves as a superior race and all they want to do is conquer more territory. The third and final category contains only two members, those being the main characters Kurtz and Marlow. We have to classify them separately because the characteristics they have are unique compared to everyone else but similar to each other. ...read more.


The disregard for the starving man demonstrates the lack of concern the other Europeans have for the natives. Marlow, meanwhile, shows that he actually has feelings. The Russian is another character who doesn't get absorbed into all the savagery; he has no interest in the money or ivory in Africa, but "...he was gallantly, thoughtlessly alive....glamour urged him on, glamour kept him unscathed." (p.90) His life had no purpose and he is an example of what a typical human being is not like. Heart of Darkness illustrates that we as humans are in no way perfect. We can make an overall judgment of the view of human nature only in a broad sense. We cannot narrow in on the specific details and make conclusions. The overall view is negative and that's as far as we can go. Each character gives us a different sense of what the view really is. However, through the characters Conrad tells us that humans can be evil or do good deeds and what be become can have a lot to do with the atmosphere we live in and the people we live with. The Europeans represent the dark side of human nature, while the natives represent the positive side. This is in a way contradictory to the outward appearance of the natives and the Europeans. What Conrad did achieve in exploring human nature using different characters was that he established that each of us are different and we cannot make generalized judgments which will apply for everyone. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Joseph Conrad section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Joseph Conrad essays

  1. The Heart of Darkness Marlow's story of the Roman Conquest of Britain as an ...

    the race that peopled its banks, spread out in the tranquil dignity of a waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth."] River never changes; people come and go. The African story like the Roman story is another story that the river will hold.

  2. What is your impression of the description of settings and characters in the heart ...

    Marlow, it says, is an "idol". This, however, is in stark contrast to the way in which the indigenous race is described. For example on page 96 of the novella it describes a group of indigenous people as "a mass of naked, breathing, quivering bronze bodies".

  1. Explore the themes of justace and things not being as they seem in The ...

    direction of the distant town" these all add to the thought that he might be trying to get away from something. The second stranger helps add more tension to the story when we find out that he is an executioner and also that someone had escaped from the prison in

  2. Explore how the authors present the 'darkness' of the human heart and the savagery ...

    A major theme in both novels is civilization versus savagery. Implying that the setting of laws and codes that encourage men to achieve higher standards creates civilizations. It acts as a buffer to prevent men from reverting back to their darker tendencies.

  1. Compare Conrad's Heart of Darkness and Coppola's Apocalypse Now, both being examples of journeys ...

    Eventually Willard encounters Kurtz, and he imparts a recount explicating the barbarity of the Vietcong guerrilla forces, "And then I realized they were stronger than me because they could stand it... men who are...able to...kill - without feeling, without passion, without judgement..."

  2. Discuss The Title Of Conrad's Novel 'Heart Of Darkness'.

    light has passed out of this river ever since" The Romans originally brought civilisation to Britain, and now the British are spreading civilisation around the world. This brings up the question what exactly is civilisation and who are we to teach others?

  1. How does the preparation for the river journey at the start of Heart of ...

    the silent wilderness surrounding this cleared speck on the earth struck me as something great and invincible (page 51) this gives the idea of resisting invasion as he says its invincible meaning it was incapable of being defeated. As well as resisting invasion literally it also does metaphorically because we

  2. Heart of Darkness - Through a detailed analysis of a passage of your choice ...

    For example, on page 20, Marlow attempts to justify or explain colonization as noble, but due to the 'idea only...and an unselfish belief in the idea'. However, he is unable to continue his explanation since he is unable to articulate the 'idea', therefore the language is interrupted by an ellipsis.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work