Joseph Conrad, the author of the book Heart of Darkness, was born on December 3, 1857. In 1874, he went to Marseille to work on a French merchant ship. This marked the beginning of Conrad's passion for navigation. Later, he lived on the sea for 20 years, owning rich travelling experiences. The experience he gained during a disastrous voyage to Congo left a deep impression on Conrad and formed the background of his novel Heart of Darkness. The book received the 44th Golden Time Emmy Award, and is surely a masterpiece.
This adventurous story is mainly about Captain Marlow's experiences on a sea boat docked in the Congo River. Marlow's story, in addition to his childhood experience in Africa, tells the story of a white colonist named Kurtz who was well-known in Africa. Kurtz was an idealist determined to bring progress of civilization into Africa; however, he later degenerated into greedy a colonist.
The main character is Captain Marlow, the narrator. He is an impartial and righteous person as the book describes. However, such a person sometimes cannot resist the temptation of the outer world, which is Africa in the story. Africa then was a pristine and mysterious land, where people could do whatever they want without restraint. In the story, Marlow once nearly went astray due to greediness. But he controlled himself well and overcame the temptation. On the other hand, another character, Kurtz, was the incarnation of insensibility and greediness. When he first arrived in the primitive land of Africa, he was afraid of the indigenous people and brought fancy things to the Africans. He soon became a god to the local people was able to easily get what he wanted. He even used force to get expensive pieces of ivory just like a tyrant. Facing unlimited temptation, Kurtz couldn’t resist and gave in. He turned from civilized into insensible and ruthless, and became a totally different person.
The most interesting aspect of the plot is the contradictions in the novel. Although Kurtz knew that he was on the one-way road to degradation, he somehow still kept going though he knew he shouldn’t. At the end of the story, Kurtz died in horror and torment. He hated himself so much the moment before he died, though he was quite enjoying the power before. This contradiction strongly demonstrates the mysteriousness of human nature. Apart from Kurtz’s suffering, Marlow suffered as well. The book says that Marlow loves truth and finds lying repulsive. But, in the last part of the book, he lied to Kurtz’s fiancée in order to pacify her that the last words Kurtz spoke were her name. He strayed from his strong belief in truth, and afterward lived in guilt and suffered physiologically. The quote, “it seemed to me that the house would collapse before I could escape, that the heavens would fall upon my head,” is the best depiction of Marlow’s inner world.
The title of the book is really intriguing. After reading the book, I began to understand its true meaning. Darkness refers the uncultivated land of Africa geographically, which is mysterious and unknown. A deeper meaning is the distorted heart facing temptation, which is physiologically sinister and greedy, just like Kurtz’s heart. The narration of the dark heart helps readers to explore and get to know basic human nature. It is invariably a good book which I will definitely recommend it to my family and friends.