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Heart of Darkness

            Conrad's novel, Heart of Darkness, is a complex narrative that challenges the reader on several levels. On one level, this book can be read as a story about Charlie Marlow's (the novel's protagonist) journey to discover his inner self, or as a commentary on human identity in general. To become fully aware individuals, our identity must be open to all forms of alteration, even if this deviates from our social conditioning. The journey that Marlow embarks upon after he was charmed by the snake' is psychological as well as physical. On his voyage up the Congo River, Marlow is confronted with culture clash, wilderness, disease, insanity and death and returns to Europe a changed man. Marlow himself considers this experience as a kind of enlightenment: .
             "It was the farthest point of navigation and the culminating point of my experience. It seemed somehow to throw a kind of light on everything about me - and into my thoughts. It was sombre enough, too - and pitiful - not extraordinary in any way - not very clear either. No, not very clear. And yet it seemed to throw a kind of light."" (p 11).
             This paper will try to analyze Marlow's change, as caused by his exposure to a radically different culture, untamed nature and the imperialistic character of the historical period. .
             The novel begins with Charlie Marlow, along with a few of his friends, sailing aboard the Nellie, a pleasure boat, at the mouth of the Thames outside London. On the boat, Marlow begins to tell of his experiences in the Congo. Marlow starts his tale at sunset, and as his story gets gloomier, so the evening grows gradually darker. Before the start of his voyage, Marlow is an ordinary English sailor, an Englishman through and through. He has no idea what awaits him and is very anxious to start his journey. The naiveté of all Europeans can be made out in a series of examples. For instance, Marlow's aunt believes that the purpose of the voyage is "weaning those ignorant millions from their horrid ways-.

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