Morality in heart of darkness

The novelette, Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad has a strong subject of morality. Conrad ‘s end utilizing morality is moral confusion. The chief character Charlie Marlow sets out on a journey with the European Ivory Trade to Africa. During this journey he discovers a dark quandary of moral moralss. Bing over taken by greed and imperialism, Marlow discovers merely how easy it is to go inhuman without a structured society of civilisation.

Greed is an of import portion of the forsaking of ethical motives in this novelette. Ivory in this narrative is a symbol for greed and immorality. The white European work forces come to Africa lustful for tusk, but besides with a greed for power. One character in the novelette named Kurtz harvested more ivory than the other Stationss. His power and greed turned him into a stealer and a liquidator. All the greed had taken over him in a sense where he believed “ my intended, my tusk, my station, my river, my: ” everything belonged to him. ( Conrad 79 ) . Ivory regulations the characters in the book ‘s actions ; “ You would believe they were praying to it ” ( Conrad 53 ) . Greed destroys the settlers ‘ moral values and their lone idea becomes doing a net income without admiting the injury they are making to the indigens. They have selfishly put themselves and their ain wealth before the health and humanity of the people they desire to gain from. Conrad believes that “ behaviour is efficaciously structured and censored by the patroling mechanisms of civilisation. ” ( Brown ) . Their rigorous European values and ethical motives have been wholly wiped out by greed.

The moral intent of the Europeans coming into Africa was to educate the indigens, but alternatively they ended up colonising their land and perverting them. The Congo became victim to imperialism. They were “ set uping epistemic high quality ” which allows those in control of the “ rational agency of production to ontologize themselves as God ‘s chosen people and to ontologize the non-chosen other as sub-human. ” ( Lackey ) . However, imperialism in Heart of Darkness is more centered on what it does to the Europeans instead than the people being colonized “ therefore corrupting the West ‘s image of itself as carrier of visible radiation and civilisation. ” ( Brown ) . Imperialism degrades Europeans by taking them from civilisation and detaching them from their ethical motives by alluring them into violent irrational behaviour because of the upset of the environment. There are many dangers of an explorative life like “ cold, fog, storms, disease, expatriate, and decease – decease malingering in the air, in the H2O, in the shrub ” ( Conrad 11 ) .

The chief moral quandary in this novelette is of the deficiency of a stable moral system with a centre to keep moral determinations. Once the white settlers leave Europe with it ‘s stable society, they leave their ethical motives behind and one time the restraints on behaviour set by a society are removed, people tend to go barbarians to derive power and net incomes. “ If the darkness overtakes the colonialist ” as in the instance of Kurtz, “ it is as a quality otherwise latent, lodged deep within him, but which irrupts due to adumbrate contact with the lawless wilderness. ” ( Brown ) . Kurtz has been cut off from civilisation for so long that he loses his individuality and allows himself to be worshiped as a God. With this, he is unable to be to the full human once more and is invariably being dehumanized by nature. He has become “ impressively bald ” by the immorality wilderness which has “ consumed his flesh ” and “ sealed his psyche ” . ( Conrad 80 ) . He has lost both physical and religious aspects of a human being from being cut off from the remainder of humaneness go forthing him “ hollow at the nucleus. ” ( Conrad 95 )

When the Europeans left society they became capable to imperialism, greed, and the dark side of adult male. This all lead to an forsaking of ethical motives. I think that was what Conrad intended to make with Heart of Darkness. He wanted to demo how ethical motives are merely an fanciful set of regulations made by a society and one time person is taken from that “ safe zone ” , they become barbarians and lose about all moral sense. About a twelvemonth before Conrad completed the novelette, Conrad says: “ There is no morality, no cognition and no hope ; there is merely the consciousness of ourselves which drives us about a universe that whether seen in a convex or a concave mirror is ever but a vain and fugitive visual aspect ” ( Lackey ) .


  • BROWN, TONY C. “ CULTURAL PSYCHOSIS ON THE FRONTIER: THE WORK OF THE DARKNESS IN JOSEPH CONRAD ‘S HEART OF DARKNESS. ” Studies in the Novel 32.1 ( 2000 ) : 14. Literary Criticism. Web. 23 Nov. 2009. & A ; lt ; hypertext transfer protocol: // prodId=SPJ.SP04 & A ; userGroupName=ncowl & gt ; .
  • Lackey, Michael. “ The moral conditions for race murder in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness ( 1 ) . ” College Literature 32.1 ( 2005 ) : 20+ . Literary Criticism. Web. 23 Nov. 2009. & A ; lt ; hypertext transfer protocol: // prodId=SPJ.SP04 & A ; userGroupName=ncowl & gt ; .
  • Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. New York: Penguin, 1999.