Heart of Darkness
There are many themes that run through the novel Heart of Darkness. There are however two main and significant ones. These are the theme of restraint and man's journey into self. The importance of restraint is stressed throughout Heart of Darkness. In the novel Marlow is saved by restraint, while Kurtz is doomed by his lack of it.
Marlow felt different about Africa before he went, because the colonization of the Congo had "an idea at the back of it." Despite an uneasiness, he assumed that restraint would operate there. He soon reaches the Company station and receives his first shock, everything there seems meaningless. He sees no evidence here ...view middle of the document...
Yet he does not slip over the edge as Kurtz does. Marlow keeps to the track. When he is confronted with the ultimate evil where a man "must fall back on (his) own innate strength, upon (his) own capacity for faithfulness," he is able to do so, he shows the necessary restraint.
The second theme of course is man's journey into self. During
Marlow's mission to find Kurtz, he is also trying to find himself. He, like Kurtz had good intentions upon entering the Congo. Conrad tries to show us that Marlow is what Kurtz had been, and Kurtz is what Marlow could become. Every human has a little of Marlow and Kurtz in them. Marlow says about himself, "I was getting savage," meaning that he was becoming more like Kurtz. Along the trip into the wilderness, they discover their true selves through contact with savage natives. As Marlow journeys up the Congo, he feels he is travelling back through time. He sees the unsettled wilderness and can feel the darkness of it's solitude. "Marlow comes across simpler cannibalistic cultures along the banks. The deeper into the jungle he goes, the more regressive the inhabitants seem."
Kurtz had lived in the Congo, and was separated from his own culture for quite some time. He had once been considered an honorable man, but...