As Marlow moves further into the Congo, the events at each stop on the side of the river become less and less civilized. Then the attack by the natives actually begins. Heart of Darkness, a novella written by Joseph Conrad, centers around a sailor named Marlow, who struggles between awareness and madness as he journeys across the Congo River in Africa and comes into contact with the African residents and his surroundings, and Kurtz, a trader of ivory in Africa and commander of a trading post who struggles with madness both physically and mentally. Not only are they mentioned in passing as secondary characters in a male- dominated narrative, but none of them have any speaking roles either. He was a very smart child, and did quite well in school. Joseph Conrad Background to African Imperialism Conrad's story takes place primarily on the African continent, as Marlow and his crew lead a team of sailors up the Congo River in search of the rogue station master, Kurtz.
He continually ses them being beaten when they fall carrying packages, Europeans antagonizing them from boats as they travel past river villages, Kurtz commanding them around like a batallion of troups. The long stretches of the water-way ran on into a mob of wooded islands. It's described as a whole different world from either London or the trading posts. This novella is often read, discussed, criticized in literature programs throughout the world. Its objectification and interchangeable portrayal of women, as well as its lack of women, is of concern to Feminist literary theory.
And then the white fog came down again. Brooks suggests that we can only find meaning at the end, but what lies at the end is extra-linguistic, so Marlow can only be satisfied by passing on the story, by using his constrained language to transmit the story, and the process of constant transmission means that it will never end. Watt suggest that Heart of Darkness is Conrad's first symbolic work, but also the only symbolic work done by him. Once he gets to the Congo, he sees colonialism first-hand. The text contains a variety of attempts to order the story, which Brooks suggests may actually be a way of emphasizing the underlying lack of order.
From there, the setting is mostly either on the river, or at the few trading posts Marlow stops at along the way. Obtaining the precious object transformed some into greedy connoisseurs with endless intentions to get their hands on all of the continents ivory. Critics have largely ignored or downplayed these inscriptions of resistance in Conrad's text. What the ivory trading company does care about is that Kurtz seems to be skimming their profits. The natives - not so much.
Granted, neither author believes these people to be savages, but throughout both pieces of literature the natives are degraded both verbally and phisicaly. Both acclaimed Feminist Simone de Beauvoir and theorist Laura Mulvey express their disdain towards a male- centric view of the female in their writing. This is imagery because you can just see the scene he has painted with his words. The novella is the story of two men, Marlow and Kurtz, and their experiences in the remote colonial outposts of Belgian Congo. He then retired from sailing and spent the rest of his life writing. To get a full grasp of the novella, one must first understand the behind the Congo and its colonization by the Belgians. The naïve innocence of the European woman, contrasts with the inscrutable purpose of the African woman, but both are essentially projections of male fantasy.
Whenever Marlow sees the natives, a presence of an ingroup and outgroup bias is revealed. But in both cases, it is simply too late in the process for their characters to change things. To such Western writers, the modern world emerging at the beginning of the 20 th century, seemed alien and senseless, a frightening new world filled with widespread hypocrisy and random violence, devoid of meaning or reason. Conrad portrays the Europeans as very concerned with order on the surface, yet bumbling, hysterical, and deceitful in their actions. At seventeen, he traveled to Marseilles and began to work as a sailor.
It is a space where they can share, communicate and connect with anyone or everyone. Marlow, one of the men on board, tells of his time spent as a riverboat pilot in the Belgian Congo. Marlow perceived no joy in the brilliance of the sunshine in that region. There are other descriptive passages of the same kind in the book, too. Authors do the same thing in their novels.
It moves them away from civilization and into the unknown, and the uneasiness this inspires is emphasized by vegetation that is so thick they can't see beyond the river itself. Eventually, Marlow makes it back to London, and so the setting of his narrative comes full circle. Literary Devices Examples in Heart of Darkness: Notice how this short and clipped sentence is actually a sentence fragment. Since its publication in 1899, Heart of Darkness has attracted many literary critics. Antagonist The antagonist of this story is the station managers uncle. He wants to hang a rival because he came into Kurtz area and is a threat to there ivory export. Marlow notes that 'Going up that river was like traveling back to the earliest beginnings of the world, when vegetation rioted on the earth and the big trees were kings.