Heart of Darkness

Inherent Darkness

In Conrad's Heart of Darkness Africa is described as the "dark continent" not merely because its inhabitants are dark of complexion, but because it is a place regarded as trapped in primordial darkness. In search of Mr. Kurtz, the character of Marlow says, "Going up that river was like traveling back from the earliest beginnings of the world... you thought yourself bewitched and cut off forever from everything you had once known" (Conrad 30). Here there reader is presented with the idea that the whites in Africa are separated from everything they view as "civilized." Many of the whites in the novel believe that Africa's darkness stems from the savagery of its native inhabitants. However, perhaps the conflict arising from the stereotype of the licentious, idolatrous, and duplicitous black does not explain the events of the novel half as well as that of the white man gone wild. In his novel, Conrad shows us that in colonial societies the superego of the individual has the dangerous potential to be ignored and perhaps even permanently suppressed in favor of the id.

It has been argued that nations throughout history have justified imperial conquest by dismissing subjugated peoples as degenerate...

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