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In the book "Heart of Darkness," Joseph Conrad takes the reader through one of the darkest, most primal and largest jungle on the face of the earth, the Congo. Despite the fact that Conrad's novel is mainly focused on a physical journey through the chilling waterways of the Congo, the novel is also an allegory for the navigations within the readers mind. Freudian analysts are of the opinion that the main characters in this text are a representative of the superego, ego and id.
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As clarification, the superego is the idealistic aspect that one expects from the society; the ego is the rational part in the human mind that intercedes between the superego and the id, whereas the id is the unconscious, immense, or pleasure seeking entity of the mind (Elchoness and Dirham 46). It does not escape the attention of the redder that that the superego, the ego, and the id are not best represented by the protagonists Kurtz and Marlow. Instead these aspects of the mind are exhibited primarily by the environmental elements, where the Company signifies the superego, the steamboat as the ego and the Congo as the id.
The seemingly infinite and vast tracks of land that surround Marlow during his voyage down River Congo plausibly represent the id. When reflecting about the vastness of the Congo, he says "I felt how confoundedly big, was that thing that could not speak, and maybe deaf as well (Conrad 43)." Comparatively, the id according to feud, is equally huge and in some way, incomprehensible just like the Congo.
The formation of the superego in Conrad's book occurs as a result of the expectations placed upon individuals in the society. It is apparent that the values expressed by the superego in this book are dissimilar from those put forward by the contemporary society. Purposely, Conrad evokes the Company as the superego since its expectations are mirrored by England's desires. This leads to the assertion that Marlow and his companions are part and parcel of an imperialistic system where being appointed to head a post at the Ivory trading place and earn a percentage at the end of the day was the real feeling (Conrad, 39). It is imperative to understand that ivory depicts imperialism as it is the driving force behind the Company's trading post.
The ego is also represented in this book by the steamer that Marlow journeys with. The steamer moves from one site to another while it navigates through the darker quadrants of the Congo basin. This makes it a strong analogy for the ego as it fluctuates between superego-focused thoughts to id-focused thoughts. The role of the steamer as the ego is not only furthered by its mediation between different environments, but also by the role of the crewmembers in it. At first, the steamer only had Marlow as the manager, some pilgrims, and a few natives who had been assimilated by the company.
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However, on its way to Kurtz's station, Marlow enlists some of these natives to the crew (Conrad 57). In this context, the pilgrims and the manager represent the superego while the natives represent the id. In fact, when Marlow has some doubts, these individuals are able to influence his decisions. This shows that the steamer had brought those under the influence of the Company as well as those under the influence of Congo into a similar environment.
With this in mind, one can conclude that in Conrad's heart of Darkness the superego, the ego, and the id are not fully represented by the characters, but rather by locations or environment. Despite the fact that these characters are influence by either the Company or the Congo, their behaviors culminate from the superego-centered or id-centered environment in which they operate.