Breaking the Boundaries of Structured Society
A look at structure versus chaos in the Africa of Joseph Conrad’s novella, `Heart of Darkness`.
This paper explores the weaknesses inherent in the structure of imperialistic society and the internal conflict between nature and society in Conrad?s novella. The paper concludes that chaos, darkness and destruction are, in effect, direct results of this structured order, for they lead to an imbalance in man’s nature that leads to inner conflict, confusion and turmoil.
“As Marlow proceeds further into the interior of Africa on his “mission”, it becomes obvious to the reader that this mission is not one of spiritualism, but instead one of materialism. It is, in effect, part of a network of British imperialistic conquest that, under the cover of Christian missionary work, involves stripping the continent of Africa of its resources of ivory through the use of force and the enslavement of the continent’s native people. The fact that Marlow continues to view his journey as noble and justifiable in spite of the increasing incidents of horror and brutality that he witnesses is exemplary of the blinded attitude of imperialism, an attitude that was deeply rooted in centuries of social conditioning and the righteousness of social order. Marlow persists in his selective view of his mission even as he himself becomes acclimated and begins to participate in acts of brutality, but over time the disguise wears thin and results in an inner turmoil and conflict that ultimately reveals the destructiveness and evil inherent in man’s self-made hierarchy.”