We live in a fast changing unforgiving era; one that does not give us the opportunity to develop our self individuality, but rather tries to feed us into mainstream “civilized” society. We’ve all experienced the confusion of trying to find who and what we want to be in the future, in our teenage years, yet there is a brooding presence acting as a veil over our eyes, girdling our every thought and motion.

In Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, there are many allusions of “civilized” people being unnoticingly trapped  as Charlie Marlow makes his way deeper and deeper into the Congo. When Marlow reaches the first station, he acutely notices that “[the chief accountant]  was barred from neck to heels with narrow strips of sunlight” (85). And yet again, in part II, when Marlow is travelling up the Congo in search of Kurtz, “At eight or nine, perhaps, [the fog] lifted as a shutter lifts” (113), and the light penetrates the dense cloud covering the steamboat as bars of light would.Yet, it is the natives that seem to be under imprisonment, but they are the ones that are wandering the exterior landscape. Who or what is keeping them in a metaphorical prison?

Conceivably, it could be our own fear of standing out from everyone else which constraints our decisions and the conclusion that it will render to. The ability of making our own decisions without the effect of social and economic pressures is obviously too much for most of the populus to handle. So much that the few who have tried to change to world for the better, were punished harshly for their opinions. Martin Luther- branded as a heretic for going against the greedy enterprise of the Roman Catholic Church, yet translated the holy bible in German for commoners to read; Galileo Galilei- put under house arrest for challenging past knowledge, saying the earth revolved around the sun (his work did not get published untill after his death). But they are now thought as the fathers of modern-day knowledge and are held as saints.

Who controls our thoughts and emotions? Parents, teachers, peers, media, government? The technological boom that lead to the birth of a new century was only initiated by the end of two world wars. The world had to find a new way to keep their economies alive, without scarring the general population. Oh the irony… We are unsuspectingly trapped in a whirlwind of thoughtlessness, created by the media in which we support. We are so clueless about what is really happening, brainwashed by what we hold dearest. Maybe we are so ignorant that we think media can only be used for enlightenment, but hey, it shows us high-class society, and gives us subliminal messages on how we should be like them. Did we lose our individuality like we lost our humanity? No, things will change, everything in history. It’s inevitable.

Who is to say that Joseph Conrad didn’t try to criticize this retarded world we call home through his literature. Who is to judge what is right or wrong? Surely we cannot let others do it for us. Shall we remove those blindfolds over our eyes to reach a blissful nirvana, or shall we continue on blindly as before, in which we fancy as normality? That is the question…


Conrad, J. (1997). Heart of Darkness. Toronto, Canada: Signet Classic