Joseph Conrad was born in Poland in 1857. He spent most of his early life traveling to Africa, South America and Australia. When he was older, he became a commander of British ships in the Orient and learned English. Later in life, he began writing fiction in the English Language. Heart of Darkness was written in 1902. His other major novels include Lord Jim (1900) and Nostromo (1904). He died in 1924.
The modernist novel Heart of Darkness is the story of one man's journey into Africa around the turn of the century. Marlow, the narrator, tells the story of the psychic and emotional ramifications of journeying into a place that has long been identified as "The Dark Continent." The novel serves as an exploration of Europe's colonizing mission in Africa during the nineteenth century, but particularly as an exploration of Marlow's implication in that mission. In his essay "Marlow and the Double Horror in Heart of Darkness," Fred Madden explores the way Conrad's text serves to implicate Marlow and by extension all colonizers in the moral ambiguities associated with colonization.
Madden begins his essay by referring to one of the most significant moments in Heart of Darkness: Kurtz's death. The title of Madden's essay is taken from Kurtz's last words:
It was as though a veil had been rent. I saw on that ivory face the expression of sombre pride, of ruthless power, of craven terror--of an intense and hopeless despair. Did he live his life again in every detail of desire, temptation, and surrender during that supreme moment of complete knowledge? He cried in a whisper at some image, at some vision--he cried out twice, a cry that was no more than a breath--
"The horror! The horror!" (Conrad 296).
Building on the idea of double horrors, Madden argues that Conrad intended distinct and separable meaning for each of the "horrors" in Kurtz's cry (173). He argues that Marlow's growing awareness on his journey up t...