Commentary on Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

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Cindy Cheng Heart of Darkness is a book written by Joseph Conrad. The book centers around Marlow, an introspective sailor, and his journey up the Congo River to meet Kurtz, As he travels to Africa and then up the Congo, Marlow encounters the native inhabitants of the region have been forced into the Company's service, and they suffer terribly from overwork and ill treatment at the hands of the Company's agents. The cruelty and squalor of imperial enterprise contrasts sharply with the impassive and majestic jungle that surrounds the white man's settlements, making them appear to be tiny islands amidst a vast darkness. The passage I chose is at the start of part II when Marlow is about to take a long trip up the into the Congo to pick up Kurtz. This passage is very informative and descriptive. It is quite significant that Marlow is the one speaking because as he tells the story you can almost picture him reliving the whole thing in his mind all over again, through is precise descriptions we are able to actually picture the horror of what he had to see and the chaos in his mind that he had to deal with.


I feel as though this passage brings us closer to the humane side of Marlow. Here he is in the middle of the Congo surrounded by Europeans that do not care one way or another about anything other than ivory and money and prehistoric man who he calls cannibals and admits that they are savages. In this passage taken from the Heart of Darkness, the reader is given a number of intertwining themes and symbolic phrases that are presented through the use of specialized language techniques, these language techniques also help to describe the mood of the situation, and the atmosphere. Conrad has used a number of different techniques too communicate his idea's across to the reader. Some of the themes portrayed in the section include, many metaphors based on the forest, such as the forests power and youthfulness, immensity, and the contrasting natures of mankind and the forest. The atmosphere in the passage remains fairly constant throughout the passage, the darkness and gloom are suggested repeatedly, but throughout you see evidences of other atmospherically changes that occur.


As Conrad describes his environment, it takes on almost a supernatural element, that it is not meant for this world, "this strange world of plants of water of silence" as though this is the first time this person has encounted such things. Conrad goes further to explain that the vegetation rioted and that the big trees were kings. Conrad makes it seem, as though the forest is fighting the man, as though the forest does not want the main character to reach the end of the river, " you lost your way on that river, as you would in the desert..." "Cut off from finding everything you had known once, somewhere, far away, in another existence perhaps. The atmosphere in this section is bright, lurid, hot, seemingly unpleasant, as Marlow says that the brilliance of the sun gave him no joy, even without the darkness, the nature around him does not provide a comfortable living place. There is nothing left for me there, except for all that I left behind There were moments when one's past came back to one, as it will sometimes when you have not a moment to spare for yourself

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