Language in Heart of Darkness

Language in Heart of Darkness

  • Submitted By: beldiful
  • Date Submitted: 09/13/2010 5:59 PM
  • Category: English
  • Words: 801
  • Page: 4
  • Views: 622

In heart of darkness, written by Joseph Conrad in 1899, the characters use language as a means of fabricating their own version of the reality they find themselves in. Through their Imperialistic discourse, they are able to maintain their “civilized” European identity. This in turn serves to justify the atrocities of the “imperial Concern”. However, because language is a constructed system of our perception, understanding and our communication, constructing meaning rather than reflecting it, so too is this ‘reality” they are convinced they are living in. HOD emphasizes the inherent disparities between the European linguistically defined conception of reality and the actuality of experience, as well as the inefficacy of language in communicating meaning from one individual to another. Through this, it reveals a gradual disintegration of language as a reliable means of conveying truth, which in turn destroys the validity of all other European societal pretences, leading to the degradation of morality, order and certainty that European society dictates.

Marlow relates to us the situation of the various Pilgrims at the inner station. Upon confrontation with the harsh realities of the African wilderness, the Pilgrims begin to rely on their language in preserving the stable vision of the self over the incomprehensible vision of the ‘savage” other. Their employment of ideologically charged labels in their characterisations of this African other serves to verify their perspective of the Imperial Concern, and also conceals their underlying redundancy. In the absence of the “butcher and the policeman”, the Pilgrims’ assumed criminality of the Africans (“they were called criminals”) justifies their position as the “outraged law”, thereby justifying their role as “civilizers” charged with the white man’s burden of weaning those ignorant millions from their horrid ways.

The report for the suppression of savage customs embodies Kurtz’s point of departure from the west’s...

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