Month: September 2006

The Central Irony of A great Outpost of Progress

A great Outpost of Progress is a tale by Conrad that shows how deals with of any civilization are necessary for the state of mind of individuals. Two regular white men, Kayerts and Carlier have been posted to a distant trading station in the center of Africa.

Their job is to oversee the gathering of ivory at the station. Within an odd land, with different customs and different people, Kayerts and Carlier are essentially isolated- they rely after each other for any significant company.

In this background Conrad unearths how men fall season apart if they do not have the strict controls of any society to discipline them. Kayerts and Carlier are noticed to simply while away their time, waiting for what you should happen on their own, resign themselves with their fates.

That they are struggling to improve their living conditions, they show no enterprise what so ever and are seen set on a route of progressive degradation.Right at the end, we see how these two men, who once had called one another ‘my dear fellow’, are consumed by a mutual distrust and battle over very small things.

In the end one man eliminates the other over an unimportant dispute and unable to face the effects of his action, does suicide himself.’To grapple effectually with even materials problems requires more serenity of mind and more lofty courage than people generally imagine. ‘ Conrad shows us how these two individuals are struggling to keep decent living conditions when left on their own simply because they are completely isolated from a society with its system of reward and punishment. ‘they… do not know well what use to make of their freedom’.

The central irony of the story is that both of these individuals had been sent with a civilized Western country to a ‘dark’ The African continent. Their particular mission is to result in ‘light, and faith and commerce to the dark places of the earth’.

It is ironical how rather than reaching this goal, the men chop down prey to the dark forces of ‘pure unmitigated savagery’, ‘primitive nature’ and ‘primitive man’. The men lose the beliefs that civilization had educated them and succumb to the dark forces within themselves that the shackles of society had oppressed for long.

This paradox is a frequent theme operating across a lot of Conrad’s tales. Well known one of these are Heart of Evening and Lord Jim. In both the tales we see types of how men who have recently been posted in colonial outstations submit to, bow to, give in to a life of degradation.