Heart of Darkness
HoD passage analysis 12th Grade
At the crux of Heart of Darkness lies a psychological and physical odyssey towards the confronting and profound realities of colonialism. Through constructing a complex tale based on opposites: civilised versus savagery, a core of faith and belief versus hollowness, self-restraint and its lack, Joseph Conrad reveals that behind the rhetoric of civilisation lies an ironic hypocrisy in the colonial conquest’s claim to be the agent of progress.
Pointedly, Marlow’s journey up-river acts to undermine the position of the civilised, rendering it futile against the primitive. The imagery of a ‘man-of-war’ ‘shelling the bush’ when ‘there wasn’t even a shed there’ accentuates a sense of futility in the actions of colonisers in their attempt to conquest and progress. The minutiae of “Pop” in juxtaposition to the magnanimity of ‘immensity of earth, sky, and water’ is encompassed by a ‘sense of lugubrious drollery’, rendering the man-made insignificant against the primitive, which further exemplifies a sense of hollowness and inefficiency in the colonial empire-building conquest. The description of the “brown current” carrying the colonisers ‘towards the sea with twice the speed of [their] upward progress’, once again, laments machinery...
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