Critical Essay

Critical Essay - What message does Heart of Darkness...

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What message does Heart of Darkness deliver? Heart of Darkness , the words themselves propose oppositional symbols and indicate an adversarial tension to be played out in the text. The heart is the center of life for all animals. In order for life to exist the heart must beat, pumping the blood through the body and reinvigorating the cells. The heart is also the emotional center for humans. When we experience love, joy, pride or contentment, we are said to feel it in our heart. On the other hand, darkness is the absence of light, nothingness, or a void. Darkness is also indicative of the idea of being loveless or despairing. When we experience negative emotions we often refer to the time period as “a dark time” in our lives. So in essence the title symbolizes the vitality of nothingness or despair in the minds of its readers. Why would Conrad opt to use such obtuse terms to formulate the title of his novel? Perhaps the answer can be found when looking at this text through the lens of New Critical analysis. The central tension of the text revolves around the idea of life versus death, or light versus dark. In other words our first glimpse into the meat of the story is propelled into our psyches through the paradox presented by the title. Another explanation can be found in the Marxist theory. Since darkness is the oppressor of light and light is the oppressor of darkness, a Marxist critic could argue that the complex power structure between the two forces is indicative of the class/race suppression of the Imperialistic colonizers over the colonized. Therefore the title is a glimpse of the intrigue presented through the ideology of the powerful inflicted on the powerless. Each of these theories gives us a distinct yet similar foreshadowing of the text based on the word choices of the author for the title.
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If we continue to look at the piece from a Marxists perspective, we can see that the class relations at first apparently based solely on genealogy are actually much more complex. The way in which the bricklayer idolizes Kurtz, another colonizer (or member of the powerful class) is completely contrary to the idea that the power structure is so simplistic. Within each of the two main classes, there are several subclasses. There are those members of the powerful class, who like Kurtz, and Marlow by inadvertent association, are viewed by other members of that class as the successful or “ordained” higher ranking and privileged members. Then there are those members like the brickmaker, the intended and the harlequin, who look up to and even idolize the afore mentioned members of their own class. Simultaneously there are differing classes among the “natives”, those who are colonized or powerless. Those natives who wish to be free
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Critical Essay - What message does Heart of Darkness...

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