Heart Of Darkness As Early Modernist Literature Essay

PAGES
5
WORDS
1360
Cite
Related Topics:

Heart of Darkness

Joseph Conrads Heart of Darkness was first published in 1899, and can be seen as an early example of modernist literature because it represents some of the moral ambiguity that characterized the modern world at turn of the 20th century. Conrads narrative centers on a kind of existential foray into the darkest depths of human nature, under the shadow of colonialism, and the horror that can be found within the human heart when humanity loses its spiritual purpose.

At its core, Heart of Darkness is an examination of a societynot just a man (Kurtz)that has lost its way. Of course, Kurtz is the focal point eventuallybut the story is a dissection of a Western culture that has given over its honor, integrity, decency, pride, purpose, and spirituality for an ugly, grimy, sordid materialistic conquest that yields up nothing but phantoms and goblins. To portray this symbolically, Conrad sets his character Marlowe on a voyage into the African jungle. Through the eyes, voice and experience of Marlow, Conrad presents a disqueting critique of the brutality and greed that characterized European colonial enterprises. Marlows quest to find Kurtz, who is an ivory trader who has become an almost mythical figure in the Congo, becomes the vehicle for the author to swipe at the inherent hypocrisy of the civilizing mission of European powers and to question the very empty nature of modern civilization itself. This all comes to a head at the end when Marlowe returns to civilization and reports to Kurtzs lost love his last words. Instead of telling the truth about what Kurtz uttered in his final breatheThe horror! The horror!Marlowe spins a romantic yarn to try to satisfy her feelings: The last word he pronounced wasyour name.[footnoteRef:1] Marlowe does not want to shatter her fine sensibilitiesbut he has no problem shattering them of the reader, his audience, and conveying the whole truth to us. The fact is that Marlowe, too, is shattered by Kurtzwho sees Hell before him as he goes to the other side. The horror of Kurtzs soul was laid bare for Marlowe, and it haunts him. [1: Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (Elegant Books), 127.]

Conrads thesis seems to revolve around the idea that there is a fundamental darkness at the heart of modern, materialistic humanity, represented by a society that will give up its humanity in its search for things like ivorythingsmaterial possessions. What Marlowe sees in Kurtz is a man who has traded over his immortal soul for a moments worth of material possession for the company: Kurtz has handed himself over to demons and realizes too late the horror of this trade. Marlowe sees it up closethe lawless environment of the...…is destruction and oppression. Couple with this is the theme of existentialism, which is also central to the novella and a center idea in modernist literature: what is life about? Is life even bearable? Why live like this? These are typical existentialist questions that hint at a kind of despair just below the surface of civilized society. Marlows journey is thus a metaphorical one into the human condition. The darkness of the title refers not only to the African wilderness but also to the possibly nihilistic nature of existenceif one has no spiritual or moral compass, that is. Marlows encounter with Kurtz forces him to confront life without such a compass.

In conclusion, Joseph Conrads Heart of Darkness is an important work of modernist literature that reflects modern societys spiritual and moral decline. It has certainly contributed much to our understanding of history and literature, and this is due to its willingness to reflect the darkness that can accumulate in a man and in a society that has lost its way. As an early modernist text, it reflects the moral ambiguities of an era on the brink of profound change. The themes of power, colonialism, and existentialism are woven throughout, and together they make the novella into a work that is at once disturbing and difficult to bearmuch like the world Conrad sought to represent.

Bibliography

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness.…

Cite this Document:

"Heart Of Darkness As Early Modernist Literature" (2023, November 05) Retrieved April 22, 2024, from
https://www.paperdue.com/essay/heart-darkness-early-modernist-literature-essay-2180313

"Heart Of Darkness As Early Modernist Literature" 05 November 2023. Web.22 April. 2024. <
https://www.paperdue.com/essay/heart-darkness-early-modernist-literature-essay-2180313>

"Heart Of Darkness As Early Modernist Literature", 05 November 2023, Accessed.22 April. 2024,
https://www.paperdue.com/essay/heart-darkness-early-modernist-literature-essay-2180313

Related Documents
Heart of Darkness
PAGES 4 WORDS 1351

Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now Heart of Darkness The film version of Conrad's famous novel Heart of Darkness by Francis Ford Coppola entitled Apocalypse Now has been acclaimed as an important and insightful film. The novel is based on the early colonial invasion of Africa, while the film version deals with the context and the reality of the Vietnam War. However, the film follows the major themes and underlying meaning of the

Hearts of Darkness
PAGES 2 WORDS 679

Heart of Darkness The Second to Last Paragraph of "Heart of Darkness" The second to last paragraph of Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" delivers the ultimate irony of the novella -- that the so-called "civilized" world, represented by Kurtz's Intended, has no idea of the "horror" that lies at the heart of man, when he gives himself over to his savage impulses. Marlowe travels to pay his respects to the Intended and she, in

Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now Comparing and Contrasting Coppola's Apocalypse with Conrad's Darkness While Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now is framed by the music of The Doors, Joseph Conrad's novella Heart of Darkness, upon which the film is based, uses the narration of Marlow as a framing device for the murky tale of the "horror" that hides in the human heart. The difference in framing devices has more to do with

Similarities among the Characters The Russian trader in the "Heart of Darkness" approximates Enoch in "Things Fall Apart" in providing the spark the leads to the explosion of the narratives. The Russian trader tells Marlow about Kurtz's secret, which leads Marlow to confront Kurtz. Enoch violates sacred rites that result in the burning of the church, the imprisonment of tribal leaders, Okonkwo's rebellion and suicide. The general manager in Conrad's novel

Heart of Darkness In Conrad's Heart of Darkness the author reveals the theme of mans natural inclination toward savagery by using diction and imagery. The author's descriptive detail paints a picture of an unfriendly and dangerous environment populated by uncivilized natives as the party makes its way into the interior of Africa on the Congo River. Throughout the second part of this story Conrad is developing the theme of civilization being

We must be cautious yet. The district is closed to us for a time. Deplorable! Upon the whole, the trade will suffer. […] Look how precarious the position is (Conrad 1902, p. 143). Otherwise, he notes, the ivory Kurtz collected is perfectly good. But in the face of months of strange rumors, the Company's refusal to check his activities earlier amounts to moral complicity; as Phil Zimbardo notes in a