Sunday, January 19, 2020
Savage Cultures in Joseph Conrads Heart of Darkness :: Heart Darkness essays
Heart of Darkness Essay: Savage Cultures Conrad effectively evokes a dream like image of the jungle by using language. He uses strong words to describe the natives appearances, characteristics and presumed behavior. Very common in his descriptions are the use of very strong and erotic words like "wild " and "intense". For example the description of a boat load of natives paddling down stream is distinctly primitive. He says "they shouted, and sangÃ¢â¬ ¦ their bodies streamed with perspiration; they had grotesque masksÃ¢â¬ ¦but they had bone, muscle, a wild vitality and intense energy of movementÃ¢â¬ ¦"(78). In contrast a comparison, to the authorÃ¢â¬â¢s description of a white, affluent, suggestively desirable race, made them appear artificial, sloppy and lethargic. Clearly seen in the following phrase, "flabby, pretending, weak-eyed devil of a rapacious and pitiless folly"(81). Another obvious implication of a primitive and savage culture using language, which gives the reader the illusion of wilderness, is the author's use of the word cannibals. By using the word cannibal the author implies a savage and uncivilized race, since both the word and the act are abrasive. Especially in context with the period this text was written in, 1910. Back then, the idea of natives in the jungle was a proven fact not a rumor or fantasy. Already afraid of this reality the use of the word made the image of the native more frightening and convoluted. Whereas today, cannibals are hardly threatening at all since the likelihood of their existence is purely fiction. Ironically, Conrad is able to combine the use of this word with a very tender and humorous description of his crew, "Fine fellows - cannibals-in their place. They were men one could work withÃ¢â¬ ¦And, after all, they did not eat each other before my face: they brought along a provision of hippo-meat"(104). A last description of a native is of MarlowÃ¢â¬â¢s companion the "savage who was fireman"(106). He too was described to imbue the image of a savage as society had presupposed a native would look like. Marlow describes his native physical traits, beginning with a description of his teeth. He said " -and he had filed teeth, too, the poor devil, and the wool of his pate shaved into queer patterns, and three ornamental scars on each of his cheeks.