Morality In Descartes's Heart Of Darkness And Native Guard

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Since the Medieval time period, philosophers have studied the diverse relationship between the soul and the human body. One philosopher in particular, Aquinas, argued that “the soul is interconnected with the body in such a way that without it, the human person cannot be complete” while Descartes argued that the two functioned independently (Viti 109). The novel, Heart of Darkness, and the book of poems called Native Guard proves Aquinas’ theory to be valid by highlighting the outward effect on the human body of the blurred line between morality and immorality as corruption and greed, two prevalent themes, take over. In both expositions, the weakening of one’s physical body represents the enduring moral struggle of one’s soul.
The human body
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In the novel, Heart of Darkness, Kurtz’s greed and maliciousness consume his actions and take over his body. Since Kurtz gains authority from his copious amounts of Ivory, he becomes arrogant and abuses his power. He murders groups of natives and hangs their heads on stakes to show his control which instills a sense of self validation. Sarcastically, Marlow states, “evidently the appetite for more ivory had got the better of the-what shall I say?-less material aspirations”(Conrad 86). He displays his cruelty by placing material wealth like Ivory above human lives. This obsession eats him alive, and slowly, he becomes his treasure. His body deteriorates, and Marlow “saw on that ivory face the expression of sombre pride, of ruthless power, of craven terror. . .”(105). He becomes a reflection of his greed which leaves him “hollow at the core” with no moral compass(87). In the beginning, the setting takes place in an ironic town called Brussels. Conrad alludes to a book in the Bible and states, “I arrived in a city that always makes me think of a whited sepulchre. Prejudice no doubt”( 13). In the Bible, a whited sepulchre represents the burial site for the deceased and also represents a hypocrite. As the bodies rot underground and the bones take their place, the sepulchre serves as a comparison to the hidden impurity and sinfulness throughout Western civilization. The inside holds the truth while the outside
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