Sample Essay

The use of characters as a thematic device is further explored in the story in the form of the wild woman who appears before Marlow’s boat. From their reactions it would seem that unlike the Russian, the woman reflects an aspect of the surrounding environment, the need for the people and the land to exist without the threat of being conquered. The appearance of the woman though inspiring terror and fascination in the crew seems to also exude a sense of pride and purpose beyond the understanding of the British who have come.

Perhaps the manifestation of this delusion can also be linked to an event earlier in the story where a physician told Marlow of how the environment in Africa can have a direct effect when a person attempts to “enlarge the mind.” (Conrad Chapter 2, p.28) It is far more probable however, that the writer meant to liken this expansion to the diminished sense of humanity and degradation which Kurtz goes through. In many ways the debate of whether or not Kurtz is mad is inherently linked to whether or not Marlow is undergoing the same process in the course and progression of the story and other characters such as the French Man-O-War have already succumbed to what is an inevitable and foregone conclusion. It may tell then, how Marlow seems to shift his narrative from a direct and precise prose to a more expedient one. Glossing over experiences and memories that he may prefer to forget rather than remember and his contention that the Russian hinted at the details of his encountered rather than outright spoke about them since most of the experience may have been in his mind.

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