In the novel Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad the author condemns the colonization of the Europeans on the African islands of Congo, eminently focusing on the barbarous and inhumane treatment of the natives. In this passage though, the central character Marlow narrates to the other men on his ship about his perspective of the experience he had when he went up the river Congo passing through the wild jungle in order to reach the inner station. The tone throughout the passage suggests a negative connotation of the wilderness of Congo because of the choice of words Marlow uses to describe the jungle.
Phrases such as “unrestful” and the “noisy world of plants” portraits the jungle as being quite sinister instead of peaceful and quiet as the readers would expect it to be. This passage is a composition of similes, allegory, symbolism, dark and light contrast and hyperbole which Marlow uses abundantly to describe his journey. Marlow compares going up the river as being “like traveling back to the earliest beginning of the world. “(1) He uses a simile to describe the jungle as being how the world was earlier before the technology and civilization was born, when the world was pure as it was when it was created by nature.
But then he continues the remark by saying “when vegetation rioted on the earth and the big trees were kings. ” Marlow paints this picture as the wilderness having the ability to fight against each other and when there was power between the trees. He uses the word “king” to describe the variation of power between the trees much like how the Europeans were being superior by trying to civilize the natives through brutal means. Marlow adds to the description of the jungle as having “a great silence. “(2) The phrase “silence” is inserted in his description to give a contrast of what’s happening inside the jungle.
Inside the jungle, in the inner station, it has been said that Kurtz uses unconventional “methods” to obtain the ivory he makes. This suggests that Kurtz is probably using violence or manipulations which are contrasts of “silence. ” More ever, as Marlow’s journey proceeds further and further into the jungle and closer to the inner station, Marlow’s streamer gets attacked by the natives. Moments before they are being attacked, Marlow describes to have heard “voices” crying wildly coming from the jungle.
The diction “silence” not only is a contrast of what is happening inside the jungle, it is also a contrast of a future scene where they are being attacked. Marlow further describes the river as being facile to get lost in “as you would in a desert. ” This phrase shows that Marlow is confused as to his purpose in this voyage, why he wanted to come on this journey and what he was expecting to find. This phrase also indicates that Marlow perceives the river to be mysterious and that is one of the qualities of the river that urge him to continue his journey because of his curiousness.
Later in the passage, Marlow indicates that the river as “this stillness of life which did not in the least resemble peace. “(9) This description of the river as not “resembling peace” connects directly to the journey that Marlow has been traveling in. Ever since Marlow decided to come on this voyage, he has been uncertain as to whom he really is and what he wants to do or what need to be done. Marlow has strong opinions about the Europeans as being “fools,” “devils,” and “folly,” for not knowing what they are doing. Not for being racists or discrimination of the natives as they are being tied up and worked to death.
Marlow considers him self as being “not especially tender” towards the Africans which contradicts to what he has been saying all along through out the novel as African’s as not being our “enemies. ” This passage describes the wildness and the sinister appeal of the river and the wilderness which is a comparison to the mind of Marlow. Inside his head, Marlow is confused, “unrestful,” and “not in the least resembling peace. ” This journey takes Marlow to the places he has never been before in order to find himself inside.