Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness
Explores the two main themes of Joseph Conrad’s novel `Heart of Darkness` which concern British imperialism in Africa and the effect of Africa on Conrad’s characters.
This paper takes a look at the theme of British imperialism in Africa in Heart of Darkness as well as how Africa affects the main characters in the novel. The paper looks at Conrad’s use of the symbol of darkness to represent the corruption of British Imperialism and the dark side of human nature. Also discussed in the paper is how the characters Kurtz and Marlow are corrupted by their experiences in Africa.
`Historian Walter Phelps Hall states that Africa was known to British Imperialists as the Dark Continent (Phelps 748). Phelps says that reporter Henry M. Stanley used this phrase in his 1878 biography Through the Dark Continent to describe Africa’s dense, unexplored jungles that were a mystery to Europeans until the 19th century (Phelps 750). Author Joseph Conrad experienced the Dark Continent in the Fall of 1889 when he adventured on the African Congo (Kimbrough ix). His book Heart of Darkness was motivated by his experiences on his Congo trip. He witnessed first hand the effects of English Imperialism on Africa and on the Europeans who visited Africa.`