An important aspect of any story is the setting that the reader can imagine. The atmosphere that is created, very much adds to the general theme and the relationship between the characters and the surrounding environment.
“Heart of Darkness” is a story where the setting plays a great role in the development of events and delivers a tone that is very unique and specific to the different situations. It also connects to higher moral themes that relate to human nature and culture in a specific time period.
The story “Heart of Darkness” was chosen because it unites the darkness of the jungle with the darkest parts of human soul. The reader begins to feel the heavy atmosphere, as soon as Marlow starts his journey on the boat. The eerie surroundings, unknown land and people who are much different from the known world make the setting very foreign.
The journey represents a world where evil forces rule and lead people into the most ruthless and violent actions. The author has done a great job showing how the atmosphere and a person’s greed for power can result in madness and obsession. Most importantly, the journey is the travel inside a man’s soul where the darkest corners are observed and cannot be lighted.
In such a world people discover their true identities and those of others. From the very beginning, when Marlow sees the doctor before he starts his journey, he has his head measured and is being asked seemingly ridiculous questions. The doctor clarifies that he has a theory about the type of people who travel to such places—they are characterized by psychological “irregularities” (Conrad 77).
This represents a cultural predisposition towards individuals who are considered to be mentally unstable in the difficult times. The story points to a significant part of human societies and demonstrates that many nations have gone through similar hardships and inequalities.
The postcolonial elements are present throughout the story. There is much reference to the freedom of the African land and the control that the colonizers are going to establish. The story describes a time in history when the natives were being enslaved and deprived of the land that was rightfully theirs. Their struggle through the unbeatable chances makes their battle even more in vein and makes them feel small and helpless.
The desperation and hopelessness are described through imagery and are constantly present in the story, aligning the surrounding environment with the inevitability of change. All the forces of nature and human desperation come together to form an atmosphere of frustration and an unfamiliar world. The mood of the story and the harshness of nature are displayed through imagery and personification.
The superiority of a group of people or even a country is portrayed through the views and norms of the society. The dominance and racism are clearly shown to take over everything else, in the endless fight for more land and power over others. The civilization is redefined through comparison between the developed world and places that have not yet been influenced by great characteristics of progress.
When Marlow describes Kurtz, the loss of reason and how he became infatuated with an idea of his own greatness, it is possible to see how people can get lost in an idea and the surrounding world stops mattering (Conrad 105).
“The Heart of Darkness” describes a journey into the land of horror and pain, and this is representative of the people’s deepest emotions and outlook on life. It is interesting that even standing in one place an individual can delve into the deepest parts of their heart and mind, yet find no comfort and outlet of their feelings.
Similar stories are mostly centered on the surrounding environment, and the people’s manifestation of their thoughts only adds to the general theme of darkness, as well as loneliness and cruelty of the beliefs and people’s characters. Even though the events might seem fictional or mysterious, they all have a connection to real life and the demands of the time and culture.
Even though it is made obvious that people are not the rulers of their lives and forces of nature, they take advantage of others by enslaving and depriving.
The insignificance of human individuality and the efforts are made obvious by how rough conditions can direct and force people into a situation that so desperately must be avoided. The “darkness” of the stories confirms that people have no control over human nature and greed, as it is one of the main determinants in the forceful colonization and wars.
The authors of stories such as “The Heart of Darkness” have realistically illustrated how the surrounding environment overtakes the lives of individuals and robs them of almost all control.
The connection to reality is very vivid and the circumstances can be physically felt. More importantly, the norms and goals of society are clearly illustrated as being savage, but are made out to be civilized. Even in the present time, there are places in the world that are not unlike ‘The Heart of Darkness”.
Conrad, Joseph. The Heart of Darkness. Orchard Park, NY: Broadview Press, 1999. Print.