Themes of heart of darknessi wondered how many themes are being encapsulated in so short a novel, or rather novella. The common themes are known to us all as themes of imperialism, fear, death,...

Themes of heart of darkness

i wondered how many themes are being encapsulated in so short a novel, or rather novella. The common themes are known to us all as themes of imperialism, fear, death, good versus evil etc...if u people have some extraordinary or more relevant themes then kindly share.

Asked on by zubiiii

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e-martin's profile pic

e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

There is an interest in morality in this book. Changing contexts offer changing moral codes as Marlow travels further up the river. So, that's another theme. 

Empathy is also a theme in Heart of Darkness as Marlow is challenged to continue to identify with Kurtz and then his intended as the story goes on. He is successful but pays a price for his empathy.

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

Darkness vs. Light is a major theme. Africa was often thought of as the "Dark Continent" by white Europeans, and there are obvious racial overtones to the issue of darkness. But what is the source of the darkness? Is it the nature of Africa itself, which is portrayed throughout as sinister and foreboding, or is it the influence of Kurtz, and the European imperialism he represents? This theme is closely tied to some that you mention, but it is still, in my opinion, worth expanding on.

zubiiii's profile pic

zubiiii | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

in reply of post #4.

e-martin,

what exactly do u mean by empathy?....i think he never emphathize with kurtz. To some extent, we can say that he has a bit concern for the kurtz' intended as what he did in the end is a clear proof of it......could u please elaborate it a bit more for us?

angels9286's profile pic

angels9286 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Honors

Posted on

Good vs. Evil

Much of Heart of Darkness is concerned with Marlow’s struggle to maintain his sense of morality as power conspiracies rage all around him and the mysterious figure of Kurtz piques his curiosity. Marlow’s desire to do good grows increasingly futile as he is plunged into a world where no absolute goodness exists and the best he can do is choose between a selection of nightmares. Eventually, we see that the characters become unable to distinguish between good and evil. Conrad illustrates this moral ambiguity with light and darkness imagery that often blends together, yet is imbued with an overall inevitably sinister shade.

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