A Reflection on The "Heart of Darkness" and Its Main Themes

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About this sample


Words: 939 |

Pages: 2|

5 min read

Published: Jan 21, 2020

Words: 939|Pages: 2|5 min read

Published: Jan 21, 2020

The following essay is my reflection on the "Heart of Darkness", a novel by Joseph Conrad. I found this book really entertaining because the author introduces numerous themes such as the mystery of new territory, (the eastern world) and the emotion of an adventurous journey. One of the numerous points that I found extremely attractive is that “Heart of Darkness” is based on the personal experience of the author. In 1890 the writer had the opportunity to travel to Congo and was profoundly inspired by this trip. The author drew inspiration for the writing of this novel from this journey, which immediately established itself as one of his greatest hits and one of the principal novels of English literature. The exploration of an unknown land turns into a reflection on man's destiny and nature. The book is based on a series of ideas and reflections which touch every aspect of human life. The author's skill lies in the unique ability to properly deal with deep and complex topics that are not at all obvious. Furthemore, in 2001 the director Francis Ford Coppola was inspired by this historical novel for his successful film “Apocalypse Now”.

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The novel begins with the description of the story of the sailor Marlow who describes his adventure on the Congo River. Marlow is one of the main characters in the book. The sailor has always dreamed of exploring unexplored territories by human beings. To achieve his dream, he found work for a company interested in affairs related to the raiding of ivory, a material much sought after in Europe in the late nineteenth century. During this journey, Marlow gradually descends into the dark horror of western colonialism which is expressed in the white man's acts of violence and bullying on local indigenous people. Marlow was profoundly disappointed with the malice of the European people who enslaved blacks and exploited their territory to become richer and richer. I found it extremely interesting because the author focuses his attention on telling us the relationship between Africa and the colonizers. Africa has always been the favorite destination of the colonial empires who have always been attracted by the vastness of the continent. “'The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much.'

'Heart of Darkness' definitely takes us to the heart of Africa at the time of colonization. Consequently, one of the key themes of this book undoubtedly represents the theme of colonialism. We know very well that the primary reason Europeans went to Africa was typically for the economic aspect. However, they masked everything with the excuse of wanting to help local people through civilization, trying to support people in the area to possess a more satisfactory life than they had. Conrad accuses not only Belgium as a direct colonizer of the Congo, but also other European countries such as England, France, and Germany. This is demonstrated by the fact that the characters in the story belong to different European nations. From my personal perspective, it would be hypocritical to deny that we have lived and are still living in a society who continue to mainly think about power and economic interests. Throughout human history, the problem of colonialism has been very important, since the start in all its forms and all the states in which it was historically imposed, has manifested a mass of horrors, atrocities, widespread corruption, bloodshed and oppression of peoples, with the drying up of their riches, their material and human resources. Unfortunately, I believe that the disparity between people living in developed countries and people in undeveloped countries still exists in our current societies, although many people think otherwise.

In this novel, I believe journey plays an important role in Marlowe's life. We undoubtedly have numerous types of a remarkable journey that the key protagonist must face in this incredible adventure as the typical 'heroic journey', in which the protagonist must overcome potential obstacles and social difficulties. Another type of trip represents the 'psychological journey.' The protagonist faces a deep dialogue with himself, with his moral conscience, intentionally trying to carefully differentiate evil from good. Finally, we have the “symbolic journey”, the genuine passion of Marlow to discover an unknown world, a primitive world, in which instinct dominates the human being.

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In my opinion, if someone wants to change, a journey is needed. I believe that if you have the occasion to see another culture for even a short period, open your mind to see the world in different ways. The journey can help you understand something can have more meaning. At first you might feel scared, lost, but once you learn how to move in diversity, how to deal with other cultures, you will be more competent. Testing yourself, dealing with uncomfortable situations, helps you become a better person than you already are now. I feel that's what happened to Marvel, he was a completely different person from when he started his adventure. I think another point that the writer wants to highlight is the 'kingdom' established by Kurz. He has always been described as an extraordinary man by other people. Kurtz is initially presented as an intelligent and honorable man, however the novel shows that this character is a terrible person in many ways since he gives in to the temptation of power, exercising his supremacy over the natives who acclaim him as a god. Through this description, I feel the author still wants to communicate his personal disappointment with some of the western methods.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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My Personal Opinion About the Topics Involved in the Book “Heart of Darkness”. (2022, December 09). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 17, 2024, from
“My Personal Opinion About the Topics Involved in the Book “Heart of Darkness”.” GradesFixer, 09 Dec. 2022,
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