Marlow is desperate to learn more about these colonisers especially Mr Kurtz, “who is this Mr Kurtz,” and it is obvious that he gets frustrated when he does not receive a clear answer, “Tell me, pray. ” This shows his eagerness and interest in the personality and role of colonisers. He describes the brick layer to have “little eyes that glittered like mica discs-with curiosity… ” arousing some suspicion in the mind of Marlow and the reader.
This also shows that Marlow realises that the representatives of the Company cannot be trusted.
Perhaps he is also desperate to see Mr Kurtz, who is said to be “an exceptional man, of greatest importance… ” as he wants to know if this is true and whether he can really be trusted. Another reason that makes it hard for the reader to decide whether Marlow’s thinks well of the Company’s representatives or not, is that he very graphically describes how the colonisers treat the natives.
He shows off their brutality “a nigger was beaten,” showing negativity about their character and their cruelty, yet at the same time Conrad and Marlow portray the natives as animals “tails” which “screech most horribly. ” Whether he shows hatred towards the colonisers by calling them “red devils”, and sympathy to the natives by calling them “shadows” is debatable. However, one thing is clear and that is that Marlow does not think too well of colonisation and exploitation. He realises that the “greenery” of the jungle has been turned to “hell” by the colonisers.
This can clearly be seen by the powerful, hellish language used by Conrad to describe the situation that the colonisers have caused and the colonisers themselves. Examples of this include, “devil of violence, and the devil of greed, and the devil of hot desire,” “anger,” all being dark and dangerous imagery and sees them as “evil” using the word devil constantly. He even sees himself as an “impostor” and realises the colonisers don not belong there as well as himself, which is why Conrad uses the juxtaposition of “black” against “white”, with white being out of place and standing out.
Despite referring to the colonisers as “devils”, he also calls the natives, “black,” “animals,” “dark things,” “dead,” “black shadows,” “black shapes,” “nothing earthly,” and so on. All of these dramatic images used by Conrad portray the emptiness and again the darkness of this place and people, as though they are inhuman. However, in my opinion Marlow seems to think that it is the colonisers that have caused this to happen. A capturing metaphor used by Conrad is evidence for this, “black shadows of disease and starvation”.
If examined closely this portrays the white men creating these people who are now just objects and not even human. Previously Conrad refers to the “white” people thinking they show the light and are in fact the light for the natives. This metaphor shows that like the sunlight creates shadows this is how the so called “light” of the colonisers have created these “black shadows”, showing their cruelty and the force with which they impose their order on the natives. Hence, it is obvious that Conrad thinks that the Company has caused the natives to become soulless and empty, as well as Marlow.
Conrad’s language such as, “massacre,” “pestilence,” “horror” and even the title of the novel “Heart of Darkness”, shows the danger and effect of colonising, and in turn perhaps the colonisers too. Another such image of a native having a “white thread round his black neck,” is a metaphor for the white controlling the natives while still looking out of place. Also the picture of the woman blindfolded holding a torch seems to be an extended metaphor for the colonisers, trying to show the light to the black while not knowing what they are doing.
So the fact that Marlow calls the natives “ants” and “criminals” is perhaps either what the colonisers thought or what they had turned the natives into. This helps us show Marlow’s view of the Company’s representatives too. It seems clear that despite respecting the accountant and perhaps Kurtz too, Marlow understands the inner thoughts of the representatives of the company, and Conrad realises the bad effects of the Company on the people and the area.
This is shown by the brutal imagery such as “nigger getting beaten” and blamed for starting a fire when there is no evidence to suggest it. Also Conrad never shows Marlow to show something positive that the colonisers have done for the natives or the area telling the reader what Conrad himself and Marlow think of colonisation and exploitation. As well as this Conrad tries to portray the journey of Marlow into other people’s minds as well as his own. Conrad’s highly imaginative imagery and dramatic language helps the reader to relate to what Marlow’s view and opinions are.
Conrad also uses a lot of juxtapositions throughout the novel to show the comparison between the two sects as well as some of the splits in Marlow’s opinions, “flushed and insensible. ” He describes the colonisers as “aimless… wonderers” and it seems Marlow himself has no control over his thoughts and emotions, and he too has become “aimless”. His unsurity of himself and his unstable state of mind show us his confusion. Hence, it cannot fully be decided what exactly Marlow thinks of the representatives of the Company, but it is almost clear in most places that Conrad portrays the Company in a rather negative light.
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