Heart of Darkness is a cerebral narration written by author Joseph Conrad. The main protagonist of the story is a sailor by the name of Marlow who signs on to a sailing expedition by way of the Belgian Continental Trading Society. His mission is to locate and bring back an individual named Kurtz, a highly remarkable and wild trader who has disappeared in the Congo. The culmination of his travels and experiences lead Marlow to question not only his occupation, his culture, the company he keeps, but also his own humanity as he stares into The Heart of Darkness.
This essay will allude to characters and situations in the novel in a thorough analysis of the harlequin episode. It will show how this section serves as a prime example of the light and dark motif which is prevalent throughout the novel and how such themes play a pivotal role in showing the slow and inevitable psychological breakdown of Marlow’s psyche.
The tale being narrated on board the Nellie as it runs down the River Thames epitomizes the struggle between light and dark, civilization and savagery in the remote jungles of the Congo in western Africa. The section in question is preceded by events which not only evoke a palpable sense of tension in the reader but also act as a commentary towards the behavior of the British in these unexplored lands. At this point of the story Marlow’s crew is trailing Kurtz to his station and has been exposed to the unfriendly nature of the natives when they attack their vessel.
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