In this short story, there are frequent significant subject and ideas that make the story, "A Heart of Darkness," by Joseph Conrad, and haunting novel. The main theme is absolute white power over the natives. The theme validates the corruption, and the dependence caused by the white people as they took over the Congo. White men were giving all the power; they had no self-control, and in the end they did not use wisely. The white men became immoral.
In the Heart of Darkness, the main character is Charlie Marlow. He is a self-motivated character who basically controls the development of the theme. Through Marlow’s experiences and revelations, the author illustrates how forces of ...view middle of the document...
Her human feelings are not denied. She faces the truth of the situation and the pain because she can endure it” (Mistress). On the other hand, his white mistress is depicted as being soft-tempered and patient: “and illusion of the European society” (Mistress). These two women serve the purpose of emphasizing the two images of Kurtz: a barbarous and savage man of an uncivilized society vs. refined gentlemen from civilized Europe. The manager of the ivory company in Africa is essentially the scoundrel of the plot. He is the dark force indirectly responsible for the corruption and decadence in the Congo.
Setting is also relevant to the overall theme of the novel. As the plot opens up, Marlow begins to compare the Thames River to the Congo. He describes both rivers to be connected like “an interminable waterway” (Conrad 65). Marlow means to say that the two are connected symbolically. Both represent the continual passage for the ivory trade.
The ivory is carried out of Africa through the Congo and into Europe through the Thames. Furthermore this came with a price, the price was treatment of Congoinase people as shown here:” The people of the Congo Free State suffered under King Leopold's rule. He treated the people cruelly and forced them to work long hours at such jobs as collecting rubber in forest and building a railroad. Many of the people died as a result of the harsh treatment”( http://www2.mvusd.k12.ca.us/eett/syoung/WDSTF/bc.htm).
The Thames is depicted as being peaceful and tranquil while the Congo is its antithesis. Both are associated with darkness; however, the Thames has “conquered” its darkness and now is peaceful. Conrad portrays London to be the “light” of the world and Africa to be “one of the darkest places on the earth” (pg. 67). Europe is highly civilized and refined while Africa is considered to be primitive and untamed. The two societies represent the opposite ends of a spectrum.
One central theme that prevails throughout the novel is mankind’s capacity for good and evil. This is illustrated in the evolution of the two central characters, Marlow and Kurtz. Both symbolize the two conditions of human nature. “Kurtz represents what man could become if left to his own intrinsic devices outside protective society. Marlow represents a pure untainted civilized soul which has not been drawn to savagery by a dark, alienated jungle" (Heart of Darkness: A systematic evaluation). When the two come personally, each man sees a reflection of what he might have become in the other. In Kurtz, Marlow sees the potential for his dark self to emerge if he were to continue to survive in the savage soils of Africa. In Marlow, Kurtz sees himself as he once was: a man of innocence and civilization. Thus, Marlow and Kurtz symbolize both the light and dark forces of a single soul.
The contrast of light and darkness to represent the civilized and the uncivilized is also a dominate theme throughout the novel. At the opening of the...