The Heart of Darkness explains the journey of Charles Marlow from Europe after he gets captains appointment for a steamboat (Conrad 5). He learns of the cultural setting of the native community he finds in the Congo Basin, which the European community uses in the ivory trade. Marlow gets the desire to make an impact on the company’s trade with the help of Mr. Kurtz’s advice. Mr. Kurtz uses extermination on the Africans, and Marlow thinks he can also use the process to the natives respect and act according to his demands. However, Marlow ends up devastated by illness almost to the point of death just like Kurtz. He returns to Europe with the papers from Kurtz, which give a detailed report on the activities of trade in Africa.
Charles Marlow finds himself in Africa following his appointment as a captain of a steamboat for an ivory trading company. His journey, however, seems to be full of devastating scenes of torture and cruelty that make him doubt his beliefs in the African continent. As his journey progresses into the interior Congo Basin, Marlow learns of a respected agent in the society known as Mr. Kurtz, who brings more ivory to the company than all other agents. On arrival at his steamboat, he finds it damaged days earlier, and it takes him months to repair the machine and design it ready for sailing. The slow process is due to the insufficient repair tools and replacement parts. The idea of having many fruitful possibilities in the Basin begins to fade away for Marlow due to his findings of the cultures of the people in the region.
Brought to Africa by the offer to explore and bring a change in Africa and out of Africa through the ivory trade, Marlow finds an oppressed situation (Conrad 34). Mr. Kurtz, who has been in business for a long time, oppresses the natives by taking ivory forcefully from them and trading them, and that’s why he managed to get more sales than other agents. Contrary to what he thinks, Marlow finds that Kurtz used oppression and violence on the Africans. The motion seems to bring out the evidence of evil activities behind the European activity in Africa. The oppression of all the natives by the whites makes Marlow involve himself in the thinking that the African community should help him gain his popularity for Europeans. Using this dehumanization process, Marlow finds it best rather than using open colonial violence as a weapon of acquiring any possession from the Africans. The act of creating fear among natives seemed the best idea for Kurtz, and so Marlow decided to follow what he learnt from Kurtz.
Marlow learns from the start of his endeavors with Mr. Kurtz that he is mentally insane. However, it is evident that the full liability of the company lies on Kurtz’s shoulders. Such a situation can be overwhelming on one person who should notably lead to the success of the company. In such cases, one is forced to perform under hard conditions that may make one suspicious of the mental capability of the person. However, the European Community believe that Africa is a hub for mental disintegration and physical illness. Marlow believes that the African setting brings about the illnesses to them thereby changing his mind set on using the African platform to build a name of his own. He, therefore, decides to move back to Europe to avoid death.
With the death of Kurtz, Marlow discovers that he has no power over the natives. He realizes that the African mistress who Kurtz used could not shudder away when he tries to refrain the natives from attacking them. The usage of Africa women and bodyguards as a way of showing success and power made Marlow disorient himself from the trade as he could not get as powerful as Kurtz. He believes that the company is unlawfully using inhumane activities on the Africans for it to get ivory. Moreover, he acts as a witness to the wrongs of the Europeans on Africans and later returns to Europe having understood that he cannot involve himself in imperialism.
- Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. London: Bibliolis Books, 2010. Print.