• Submitted By: jamesQ
  • Date Submitted: 03/10/2009 7:23 PM
  • Category: English
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Hao S. Guo, Val Segovia, and Paul Rubio

Futility in the Heart of Darkness

Theme: Conrad used the idea of futility as a motif to demonstrate the ignorance and blindness of the European Imperialism. The self-deception of European imperialists and the Company prevent themselves from noticing the effects of their own actions, therefore, causing their actions to be purposeless, inefficient and ineffective.

“For the rest, after his hours o work, a casual stroll or a casual spree on shore suffices to unfold for him the secret o a whole continent, and generally he finds the secret not worth knowing.”

Interpretation: Works are done for something that is not worth knowing at the first place.

Thematic Implication: Although the action is completely wasteful, but it still takes place, and in the end Marlow finds it not worth knowing.

“We pounded along, stopped, landed soldiers; went on, landed custom-house clerks to levy toll in what looked like a God-forsaken wilderness, with a tin shed and a flag-pole lost in it; landed more soldiers—to take care of the custom-house clerks, presumably. Some, I heard, got drowned in the surf; but whether they did or not, nobody seemed particularly to care. They were just flung out there, and on we went.”

Interpretation: Many soldiers are sent out everyday, many of them died, but for no particular reason, and no one seems really care about it. It shows the ignorance of the Europeans.

Thematic implication: The soldiers are being sent for no apparent reason. The Europeans are sending the soldiers because it’s what they “suppose” to do. It appears that those soldiers are being completely wasted, and no one even cares about it. People are so ignorant that they have no idea what’s actually going on around them, thus they just continue with they actions regardless of the effects and costs.

“In the empty immensity of earth, sky and water, there she was, incomprehensible, firing into a continent. Pop,...

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