Freud’s theory of psychosexual development is a common theory with it owns controversies. Freud believes that each individual develops personality through a series of childhood stages with the energy directed to specific areas. According to Freud, the driving force behind each human behavior is libido. He also believes that, with successful completion of the psychosexual stages, one develops a health personality. Through his numerous studies, Freud also found out that psychological forces are the key motivation to an individual’s actions and have limited control over it (Guerin 127).
Conrad was the author of the novel the heart of darkness, which he published in 1898. It was a time when the European colonialism was at the peak and modernism was being born. The novel talks about the story of Conrad. The novel talks of exploration of the African Congo with the explorers aiming at making a profit in the ivory business by trying to conquer the natives. According to Tessitore, there is a great similarity in the ways of thinking of Freud and Conrad. Conrad had always dreamt of sailing the Congo. The exploration of Conrad in the mind and Freud’s exploration of the id, superego, and ego are comparable (Tessitore 93).
Freud believes that the brain has three levels of consciousness, the id, the ego, and the superego. A person is born with id which is the natural brain. This is the brain essential for the survival of infants. It is selfish and works on the pleasure principle. The ego is the next level of development seen from the age of three years. At this moment, one learns that reality consists of others as well as us. Co-operation with others is the important element to fulfill our pleasures. The Id still exist but subdominant within the Ego. The Superego is the next development phase. One learns the importance of socialization gradually as he/she matures. The society teaches moral principals which we adopt in living social lives. In this stage, to obtain pleasure one has to learn to play nice with others.
In society, the ego complements the relationship between the id and the society. In Europe, Kurtz lives in a civilized society where everything is in a position that assumes civilization. He grows up in a society that acts according to the accepted yardstick. Such that when he lacks money, his id drives him to obtain some of it. He does not rob due to the presence of superego. This is unlike with Colonialists who do things they want to do and ignore the superego. Kurtz is a prominent man in Congo River. The desire of the id within him was limitless that it controlled him. Kurtz felt that he was the dominator and the desire to go for ivory become endless. Kurtz later lost himself to a point that he could not do away with the control of the id this made him unable to flee from Africa. The coming of Marlow was to draw Kurtz back to the civilized society though he would not change as he had depleted his superego.
The ego existed greatly in the novel. Marlow and Kurtz understood and trusted each other. Their meeting was the beginning of self-discovery in the life of Marlow. Despite the dark side, Conrad shows the positive view of life by portraying Marlow. Marlow ensured that he was always in control with the ego in the right place. Slowly, he discovered that there was ineluctable power within Congo River that enlarged his id. Through Kurtz, Marlow discovers the effect of the id and brings out the ego. He did not lose himself in the uncivilized forest. On the other hand, Kurtz moved towards the opposite direction by letting the id control his life.
In summary, the heart of darkness is becoming more influential with it publication in the Blackwood Edinburgh Magazine in 1899. Kurtz the main character is controversial in the novel. He seems to represent the European colonist as well as the colonialism sufferer. The novel expresses the changes in the life of Kurtz. His degeneration lies in the expanded ego with the loss of the superego. This makes him develop cruelty and greediness.