Heart of Darkness

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Heart of Darkness Darkness permeates every circumstance, scene, and character in Joseph Conrad's novella, Heart of Darkness. Darkness symbolizes the moral confusion that Charlie Marlow encounters, as well as the moral reconciliation he has within himself while searching for Kurtz. Marlow's morals are challenged numerous times throughout the book; on the Congo river and when he returns to Brussels. Charlie Marlow characterizes the behavior of the colonialists with, "The flabby, pretending, weak-eyed devil of a rapacious and pitiless folly," (25). Marlow distinguishes "the devil" from violence, greed, and desire. He suggests that the basic evil of imperialism is not that it perpetrates violence against native peoples, or that it is motivated by greed. But that "the flabby, weak-eyed devil," the imperialists, seem to be distinguished by being foolish and unaware. Marlow is appalled by the apathetic attitude towards the sight of death, of the colonials aboard the Nellie. At the grove of the first station, Marlow is troubled by the sight of a man curled up, dying. "I saw a face near my hand…black bones…white flicker in the depth of the orbs, which died out quickly," (27). Marlow's horror at the grove suggests that the true evils of this colonial company are dehumanizing and deathly. Marlow offers a dying man a few pieces of a biscuit, and despite the fact that he is not particularly compassionate, the situation troubles him greatly. During section two of Heart of Darkness, Marlow's professional skills, morals, and work ethics are contrasted with those of the other company employees. To Marlow, work represents the fulfillment of a contract between himself and the company he is working for. Repairing the st... ... middle of paper ... .... His dishonesty was sparked by having compassion for others. Although dishonesty was something Marlow found distasteful at the start of his journey, he felt no remorse in lying to the Intended in Brussels. It is obvious that Marlow can not fully accept the truth himself, and lets the Intended believe that her husband died with a noble purpose, helping the Africans, and uttering her name as his a last words. Fay Weldon believes that, "the writers who get a lasting response from the readers are the writers who offer a happy ending through moral development…." In, Heart of Darkness, this statement holds true. Charlie Marlow goes through a period of moral reconciliation throughout the novella. Instances throughout Heart of Darkness show different sides of Charlie Marlow's morals. It is evident that when Marlow has returned to Brussels, that his morals have changed.

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