The Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad

Have you ever come across a book that you like, despite its dark and disturbing contents? It’s a strange feeling. But Heart of Darkness proves that it is possible. The main contributing factor to this possibility is undoubtedly Conrad’s beautiful prose. It is rich, passionate, and dramatic. With his beautiful prose, Conrad exposes various themes, and although I could not fathom all of them fully, I was enchanted by what he wrote (if that makes any sense).

The story is about an adventure that a sailor named Charles Marlow had had when he was working as a captain on a steamboat for an Ivory Trading Company. He narrates his adventure to his fellow sailors on board a ship called “Nellie” while it is anchored on River Thames. Through the adventure of Marlow, Conrad brings out many issues to light: Slavery, civilization, the destruction of nature by human conduct, and above all, human nature.

Out of all these themes, what caught my attention and kept me engaged with this reading is Conrad’s psychological presentation of human nature. He exposes the greed, ambition, love for power, and recognition that humans crave, which are well stored in the dark corners of their hearts. Conrad takes the reader through a journey to the dark wilderness in the African region, but at the same time, he takes the reader towards the darkness of the human heart. I’m no literary scholar, but I feel that that is what Conrad was after – the darkness of the human heart in this “civilized” society. Are we civilized after all? That is a question I felt that the author seeks an answer for through and through.

This novella is more of a philosophical account than an adventure story. The underlying message sent is deep and powerful. His beautiful prose and elaborate writing are compensation enough for its dark and disturbing contents.

Rating: 3/5

About the author

Piyangie Jay Ediriwickrema is an Attorney-at-Law by profession. Her devotion to literature has taken shape in reading and reviewing books of various genres set in different periods of time. She dabs at a little poetry and fiction of her own and hopes to share her work with the readers in the future.

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