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The Rime Of The Ancient Mariner Essay, Research Paper

Joseph Conrad

In Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, there is a great

interpretation of the feelings of the characters and uncertainties of

the Congo. Although Africa, nor the Congo are ever really referred to,

the Thames river is mentioned as support. This intricate story reveals

much symbolism due to Conrad’s theme based on the lies and good and

evil, which interact together in every man. Today, of course, the

situation has changed. Most literate people know that by probing into

the heart of the jungle Conrad was trying to convey an impression

about the heart of man, and his tale is universally read as one of the

first symbolic masterpieces of English prose (Graver,28). In any

event, this story recognizes primarily on Marlow, its narrator, not

about Kurtz or the brutality of Belgian officials. Conrad wrote a

brief statement of how he felt the reader should interpret this work:

“My task which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written

word, to make you hear, to make you feel-it is above all, to make

you see.(Conrad 1897) Knowing that Conrad was a novelist who lived in

his work, writing about the experiences were as if he were writing

about himself. “Every novel contains an element of autobiography-and

this can hardly be denied, since the creator can only explain himself

in his creations.”(Kimbrough,158) The story is written as seen through

Marlow’s eyes. Marlow is a follower of the sea. His voyage up the

Congo is his first experience in freshwater navigation. He is used as

a tool, so to speak, in order for Conrad to enter the story and tell

it out of his own philosophical mind. He longs to see Kurtz, in the

hope’s of appreciating all that Kurtz finds endearing in the African

jungle. Marlow does not get the opportunity to see Kurtz until he is

so disease-stricken he looks more like death than a person. There are

no good looks or health. In the story Marlow remarks that Kurtz

resembles “an animated image of death carved out of old ivory.” Like

Marlow, Kurtz is seen as an honorable man to many admirers; but he is

also a thief, murderer, raider, persecutor, and above all he allows

himself to be worshipped as a god. Both men had good intentions to

seek, yet Kurtz seemed a “universally genius” lacking basic integrity

or a sense of responsibility (Roberts,43). In the end they form one

symbolic unity. Marlow and Kurtz are the light and dark selves of a

single person. Meaning each one is what the other might have been.

Every person Marlow meets on his venture contributes something to the

plot as well as the overall symbolism of the story. Kurtz is the

violent devil Marlow describes at the story’s beginning. It was his

ability to control men through fear and adoration that led Marlow to

signify this. Throughout the story Conrad builds an unhealthy darkness

that never allows the reader to forget the focus of the story. At

every turn he sees evil lurking within the

land. Every image reflects a dreary, blank one. The deadly Congo

snakes to link itself with the sea and all other rivers of darkness

and light, with the tributaries and source of man’s being on earth

(Dean,189). The setting of these adventurous and moral quests is the

great jungle, in which most of the story takes place. As a symbol the

forest encloses all, and in the heart of the African journey Marlow

enters the dark cavern of his won heart. It even becomes an image of a

vast catacomb of evil, in which Kurtz dies, but from which Marlow

emerges spiritually reborn. The manager, in charge of three stations

in the jungle, feels Kurtz poses a threat to his own position. Marlow

sees how the manager is deliberately trying to delay any help or

supplies to Kurtz. He hopes he will die of neglect. This is where the

inciting moment of the story lies. Should the company in Belgium

find out the truth a bout Kurtz’s success in an ivory procurer, they

would undoubtedly elevate him to the position of manager. The

manager’s insidious and pretending nature opposes all truth

(Roberts,42). This story can be the result of two completely

different aspects in Conrad’s life. One being his journey in the

Congo. Conrad had a childhood wish associated with a disapproved

childhood ambition to go to sea. Another would be an act of man to

throw his life away. Thus, the adventurous Conrad and Conrad the

moralist may have experienced collision. But the collision, again as

with many novelists of the second war, could well have been deferred

and retrospective, not felt intensely at the time (Kimbrough,124).

Heart of Darkness is a record of things seen and done, Then it was

ivory that poured from the heart of darkness; now it is uranium. There

were so many actual events and facts in the story it made it more an

enormity than entertaining. His confrontations as a man are both

dangerous and enlightening. Perhaps man’s inhumanity to man is his

greatest sin. And since the story closes with a lie, maybe

Conrad was discovering and analyzing the two aspects of truth-black

truth and white truth. Both, of which, are inherent in every human

soul.


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