Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness
A review of Joseph Conrad’s novella, `Heart of Darkness` as a direct outgrowth of previous Victorian literature.
The essay deals with the themes of civilization and savagery in Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” and connects the novella to the development of the novel in the Victorian era. The paper presents a symbolic explication and a brief comparison to Jane Austen and Charles Dickens.
“Conrad establishes the two different locales in the story as points in metaphorical opposition to each other. This seemingly clear division of the world into civilization and barbarism is sometimes presented in the book as a clear-cut distinction, sometimes something that is difficult to predict, and sometimes as something that shifts and changes over time. London itself, in the book a symbol of enlightenment, was once “one of the darker places of the earth” before the Romans forced civilization upon them. The implication is that Africa too may become civilized once it is as properly colonized as is Europe by superior civilizations. Running against this interpretation is the fact that Kurtz brings with him no essence of civilizing forces but their reverse, so that even the “primitives” with which Conrad populates the Congo are civilized in comparison.”