Argumentative Essay on Necessity to Study Heart of Darkness in School

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Thought-provoking, challenging, engaging, and interesting are words that could be used to describe novels read as part of grade 10 academic English curriculum. Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness adopts this definition as is illustrated through the journey of Marlow, the protagonist in the novel, to eventually meet and ultimately interact with the remarkable Kurtz. Books such as Lord of the Flies demonstrate man’s inherent evil and innate desire for possessions, while novels such as To Kill A Mockingbird shows the prevalence of slavery and thirst of power throughout man’s history. Both are complex themes that warrant discussion and hopefully provoke thought while being the catalyst for class discussion. Heart Of Darkness embodies the maturity and complexity of the themes whilst including the mature stories of slavery, abuse, and thirst for power, all at a much higher standard with the inclusion of man's greed, and colonialism. Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness illustrates the evils of colonialism which are still very much around today, as man exploits its natural resources in trade of the almighty dollar, whether that be poaching, clear-cut forestry, or open pit mining for gold in the Arctic. Grade 10 academic students should have to read this because the plots and themes of this novel are not investigated as a topic, or shown in other books in the grade 10 curriculum which could provide students with different outlooks. This type of novel could expose students' minds to the types of events are happening around them in the World and open up room for discussion. The difficult nature of Heart of Darkness could improve their writing skills, vocabulary, ways of description, and understanding of figurative language. Heart of Darkness addresses complex themes such as man’s inherent greed, and man’s capacity for evil, letting students question, and contemplate human nature; finally, the plot of Heart Of Darkness is surrounded by the evils of colonialism and still reflective of events happening in modern society which need to be addressed.

In the grade 10 English curriculum, the books you read and analyze primarily take place in First World Countries such as the United States, and Rome, or in fictional settings such as Lord Of The Flies. Heart of Darkness takes place in Africa, more specifically Congo, a developing nation that is widely unexplored in the books existing in the grade 10 curriculum. Heart of Darkness, taking place in Africa, gives students insight into lesser familiar places, and it shows them real problems that still take place in modern-day society. It is important for people to know about the distinct issues facing developing nations such as the ones presented in Heart Of Darkness because it sheds light on issues that are rarely spoken about, and shows the students a new perspective on life and different cultures. Hopefully, this exposure might have them appreciate what they have been gifted with, and possibly inspire them to help others who may be less fortunate. Citizens of Ontario, and Canada, are unbelievably lucky to live where they do, students live life fairly stress-free, with a typical routine being to wake up, have breakfast, go to school, have some free time, eat, and repeat. It never crosses most kid’s minds to what problems go on in other countries, and no books within the grade 10 English curriculum expose them to it, this is a problem. Without exposure, companies will continue to profit from their devastating actions on developing countries, and as students, it is important for us to know about the struggles that children and the youth in developing nations may face. First World children might see how little our “issues” truly are, opening the student’s minds to what is going on around them, and hopefully, one day grow up to be the change in the World that they want to see.

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Expanding your vocabulary, and perfecting your writing skills is an important part of grade 10 English curriculum; Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness accomplishes this by how it is written, both eloquently, but a little challenging at times. With the book's advanced style of writing, and how descriptive the book is, it can advance the students' capabilities of description and advance their knowledge of writing. A part of the English curriculum is being able to analyze, and decipher text, with Heart Of Darkness, is a novel with heavy metaphors, and figurative language throughout, it can help advance those certain reading skills a student must understand. There are numerous novels, and plays in the grade 10 curriculum, only in the curriculum partially for its eloquent, and more advanced style of writing such as To Kill A Mockingbird or any of Shakespeare's plays, Heart Of Darkness falls in that category for its use of figurative languages, such as its metaphor of the Congo River itself being described as a snake. Marlow describes the river as a coiled snake ready to attack when least expected, being a metaphor for European colonialism and intrusion on the natives' land, meaning eventually the “snake” will attack people trying to control it at any time. The novel suggests that the currents of the river seem to be constantly pushing people out of the heart of the Congo as in the novel it shows that the way there is slow, but the way back to the main civilization is fast. Analyzing the eloquence of his writing in the novel, most prominent are the quotes derived from, such as: 'I've seen the devil of violence, and the devil of greed, and the devil of hot desire; but, by all the stars! these were strong, lusty, red-eyed devils, that swayed…” Can progress the student's own writing style, and ways of description, but also make other readings such as Shakespeare become more effortless.

The themes presented in Heart Of Darkness are complex and have not been explored in any of the other novels in the grade 10 curriculum, analyzing, addressing, and exploring these complex themes can help them analyze themes in other novels, and also provoke students to contemplate human nature. “Leadership is a privilege to better the lives of others. It is not an opportunity to satisfy personal greed,” said Mwai Kibaki. This quote perfectly embodies one of the major underlying themes of Heart Of Darkness, that of man's greed. Man's greed is shown throughout of the entirety of the novel through the colonialism of Africa for their human, and natural resources, such as the stations dedicated to ivory collecting, and the enslavement of its native people. Man’s inherent evil is also a major theme of the novel, reminiscent of Lord Of The Flies, but shown in a more mature plot. Man's inherent evil is seen through the colonialism of Africa, and also how Kurtz, once offered the ability to be followed by hundreds and worshipped as a God, he took the opportunity right away. The mad Kurtz went as far as ordering the natives to kill the rescue team sent after him as he did not want to leave, largely due to his position of a God. Kurtz was talked about as being a genius, wise, and remarkable, but the evil in all of us is represented through him and he went insane with the power presented to him. There are still some ideas presented in this novel that are illustrated in some other novels, but here are shown in a more shocking way compared to, for instance, slavery demonstrated in To Kill A Mockingbird. It demonstrates how race wars have always been a problem even on other continents. The analysis of the theme of the coexistence of good and evil in To Kill A Mockingbird and human nature in Twelfth Night, Heart of Darkness not only include these themes, it also expands on them in a more mature setting with human nature being the main idea of man’s greed, and man’s inherent evil. The coexistence of good and evil is represented by the relationship and differences between Kurtz, and Marlow; the agents collecting ivory, and the natives being used for profit and resources. Addressing these themes, and contemplating human nature can act as the catalyst for classroom discussions, and also help with the analyzing of other themes in novels.

“Greed is so destructive, it destroys everything,” said by Eartha Kitt. Man’s greed has always been a topic of discussion, with modern-day problems such as gold mining in the Arctic, and colonialism in developing nations. Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness addresses these complex issues in his novel that still have modern-day implications. Man’s greed was very visible when the oil fields in Kuwait were set on fire to stop American control over them during one of the many conflicts with the Middle East Persian Gulf War, causing heavy environmental damage. Open Pit Gold and Diamond mining in the Canadian Arctic has been one of the most recent examples of man’s greed destroying the environment. The huge machines that are brought in to dig down destroy the soil, ice, and leave giant chasms adjacent to an unpleasing mountain of soil and debris, all for the mighty dollar. This way of Arctic gold mining is reminiscent of the destruction of the land talked about in Heart Of Darkness when Marlow narrates the horrors he saw of the agents firing bombs, and shells into the dense jungle to scare, control, and displace the native population. Colonialism is defined as “the policy or practice of acquiring full or partial political control over another country, occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it economically.” Which shows just how accurate the act of gold mining in the Arctic is to colonialism. It is interesting that colonialism was a major problem then (at the time the novel was published), and still is now in modern society with there being many examples such as Cambridge Analytica. 'This is a company that goes around the World and undermines civic institutions of, you know, countries that are struggling to develop those institutions,' also 'they are an example of what modern-day colonialism looks like. You have a wealthy company from a developed nation going into an economy or democracy that is still struggling to get, you know, its feet on the ground and taking advantage of that to profit from that,' said a former employee of the company. The firm was exposed for boasting about their psychological manipulation and entrapment techniques, while they were working out of Kenya. The company created fake campaigns, and data to spread misinformation, influencing the vote of the Kenyan elections as technology is still new to them the spread of the misinformation was easy, influencing the voting for monetary purposes. Heart Of Darkness shows old ways of colonialism, it was much less hidden and was targeted at gathering natural resources, while modern-day colonialism is hidden in its tactics, and is in search of human resources, but both of types of colonialism are in search of all mighty dollar. Colonialism is just as much a problem in modern society, as it was back then, just because it is hidden it flies under the radar of the majority of people which is a problem. Modern-day colonialism should be talked about in all schools as the problem will continue to grow if there is no backlash against these companies for profiting off the backs of others or the environment.

In conclusion, Heart of Darkness should be included in the academic grade 10 curriculum because it is a well-written novel, using a very descriptive challenging form of writing, and shows issues that were as much of a problem back then, as it is now. Its plot will intrigue students to keep reading and create thought-provoking dialogue in class discussing a multitude of themes. Each student will certainly form their own perspective about the novel and the ideas presented. Although the novel is challenging, its quick pace and its relatively short length should inspire without seeming overwhelming.

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Argumentative Essay on Necessity to Study Heart of Darkness in School. (2022, December 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 30, 2024, from
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