Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Heart of Darkness book cover
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How can we interpret Heart of Darkness in terms of psychoanalysis?

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There is a reason why Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness is still one of the most widely-studied works in English over 100 years after its publication—not only for its literary impact but also for its insights into the human psyche. The protagonist, Marlow, undertakes a journey from an ostensibly civilized world in Belgium to a "less developed" one in the Belgian African colony then called the Congo Free State. Because of his traumatic and surrealistic experiences while on this journey, Marlow comes back to Europe a changed man. Conrad's narrative has confusing recursive layers and hallucinatory language that give the story a dreamlike, surrealistic quality.

The outward surface journey Marlow takes from a structured environment to a very primal one and back again is similar in concept to how psychotherapy works in mining dreams and the unconscious. A student essay could make use of the Freudian concepts of ego, superego, and id by matching these concepts to the different points on Marlow's...

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