Essay on The Freudian Model in Conrad's Heart of Darkness

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The Freudian Model in Heart of Darkness

In my essay I intend to prove Joseph Conrad's use of the Freudian model of the human mind, as portrayed in his characterization of Marlowe, Kurtz, and the "wilderness". Further, using that model I will explicate Conrad's ambiguous tone in Heart of Darkness.

First, I must define each figure in Conrad's novel with its appropriate Freudian psyche. These psyche are defined in an essay by Ross C. Murfin's essay, "Psychoanalytic Criticism in The Awakening":

"the human mind is essentially dual in nature. He called the predominately passional, irrational, unknown, and unconscious part of the psyche the id, or "it". The ego, or "I", was his term for the predominantly rational, logical,
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Kurtz's primal actions include staking heads in front of his house, acting as a god, and attacking his own compatriots to maintain his "various lusts".

We can describe these primal actions and Marlowe's rationalization of them as "passional" and "irrational" when compared to "the exceptional man" he is described as by the other characters in the story (83).

Acknowledging Kurtz as a model of Freud's "id" the progression would be to define the second half to the duality of the human mind. The second half of Freud's duality of the mind is a combination of the ego and the superego. The ego represents the logical, rational state of mind and the superego sitting "outside of the self makes moral judgements"(Murfin 219). In the story the actions of Kurtz is rationalized through the speech of Marlowe. Further, we see that through his work, Marlowe creates an "order" that grounds him and keeps him from the irrational "appeal" of a "fiendish row" of "savages" (120). This rationalization and use of order is likened to the role of the ego.

Marlowe can also represent the Freudian superego in that his position as the narrator of the story places him outside the world of Kurtz and the rest of the "hollow

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