Evil depiction in Heart of Darkness

May 28, 2020 by Essay Writer

The general definition of evil is the opposite of good or the worse and horrific acts of humans such as murder, rape, etc. that are ethically and morally dangerous for the society, and most of the time are illegal in the rule of law. Many people become evil when they desire for more and more money and power. Evil person always tries to ruin other’s lives by killing or insulting them in front of others. In the story Heart of darkness, the evil can be seen through the character of Kurtz, the manager, and other white people.

Kurtz’s evil side can be seen when he comes to Congo. Kurtz was a European guy, who was sent to Congo to bring back ivory for the company, but when he noticed that Africans were not well educated, he sought to rule over them. He always wanted to earn more and more ivory. For his greediness of ivory, he killed so many Africans.

White people in Congo treat Africans like animals. They all showed the dark side of human nature in the story. Marlow was another character in the story who was sent to Africa to help the savages or to find Kurtz.

When he traveled to Congo, he saw black people doing harsh works like digging holes, etc. and if they did any kind of mistake, they were punished very badly by the white dominance. In this story, the evil nature can be seen throughout the character Kurtz from his greediness for ivory, violence, cruelty, and racial discrimination with Africans. Greed is the root of all evils. A greedy person always desires more and more of everything, he never satisfies with what he has. Similarly, while living in Congo, Kurtz’s desire for ivory was increasing day by day. He became greedier for ivory.

He tends to do anything for getting ivory. He became very cruel and started robbing and murdering people. He threatened local people for even a small amount of ivory. He didn’t hesitate to kill the person who refused to give him the ivory and competed with him in the business of ivory. Even he threatened one of his Russian friends when he refused to give him a small amount of ivory. He always wanted to become the best businessman of ivory and once, when he collected enough ivory, he exclaimed,

My ivory, oh yes, I heard him, My intended, my ivory, my station, my river (Conrad 187), because every person in the village gave all his ivory to Kurtz. It describes how Mr. Kurtz thought about himself as if he had all the power and he was the owner of everything around him. Moreover, no one in Congo would compete him in the ivory business because he had killed almost every person who said no to him for ivory. He’s very possessive for ivory, even when he’s dying of illness, still, he was saying to save the ivory. His possession of ivory can be well-determined as, “In this country, you will not find ivory whether on the ground or underground because no matter how deep the ivory buried, only genius Kurtz knows how to find them” (Shetty 474). So, it shows Kurtz’s curiosity for ivory and to get that, he ready to do anything and everything as described above.

Violence and cruelty are the main identifications of an evil genius. In the story Heart of darkness, these characteristics of an evil person have been portrayed by the actions of inhumanity by white people towards Africans. As Africans were shown less educated in the story, they weren’t aware of modern weapons like guns, before. So, with the influence of guns, Kurtz ruled over the Africans. He stole all the ivory from Africans under the shadow of guns he had. He treated them very badly, Africans were seeing him like a disease, and they were dying out because of that disease (Conrad 160). When Marlow came to Congo, he saw African natives suffering and describes them as, The joints of their limbs were like knots in a rope; each had an iron collar on his neck, and all were connected with a chain whose bights swung between them, rhythmically clinking. They all are naked and moved like ants (Conrad 161). It depicts cruelty, violence, and dominance of white people, and there was not any law to save them. They were being beaten very badly and were losing their lives. As the influence of power, Kurtz considered himself as God. He forced people to worship him. If anyone resisted, he killed him or her. Because of his superiority, people started worshipping him. But, in actual, he was not a God, he was very cruel, and exploited African’s lives. Kurtz was devil, he displayed the heads of Africans to the world to show his power and to fear Africans. Marlow also showed his face of evil, when he met the manager and saw the African people dying but did not try to help him at all and got left out from there.

Racial discrimination with black people was seen clearly in this story and it shows the nature of the evil of white people. European people considered themselves well educated, rational and they thought Africans were strange and stupid (Asim 235). White people thought they have the right to civilize them. Moreover, the Europeans claimed that they were trying to civilize the natives of Africa, and that each colonized station should be for “humanizing, improving and instructing” as if colonization was to the advantage of the natives, in the same voice, it was said that the natives were “brute” and “savages” and they should all be

“exterminated” (Adam et al. 5). They were showing like as if they were helping the local people, but in reality, they bullied the Africans. White people treated African natives as criminals and animals. They were killing Africans without any fear of God. Even they were killing Africans for their fun too. White people did not care when Africans were dying from starvation. They just wanted work from them. Africans were forced into hard labor for the whites profit.

“They were dying slowly it was very clear. They were not enemies, they were not criminals, they were nothing earthly now nothing but black shadows of disease and starvation, lying confusedly in the greenish gloom” (Conrad 162).

It showed the evil side of white people who removed Africans from their houses for work, beating them, giving them unfamiliar food and killing them at the end. In short, Africans were living a miserable life. All this depicts the racism towards the black people by the whites and shows the dark side of white people in Congo. White people’s greediness for ivory and money brings a lot of harm to African natives, as most of them lost their life.

In a nutshell, evil is not a word written on the foreheads of individuals. People, like Kurtz, show the characteristics of an evil mind as explained above. Cruelty, violence, greediness, and discrimination are the main identifications of an evil person; and Kurtz was possessing them all as shown through his behavior. Kurtz and white people show their evil side by hurting others. They lost their souls for the greed of money. In the story Heart of darkness, the evil, its characteristics, and its behavior are very well depicted and presented indirectly through some characters. Though in real life, Kurtz and other characters might not exist, but their characteristics are alive even today.

Works Cited

  • Adam, Sanosi Z., et al. Analyzing the Themes of Greed and Colonization in the Novel Heart of Darkness. Journal of Linguistic and Literary Studies, vol.19, no. 2, 2018, pp. 153-160. Google Scholar, Accessed 14 August 2019.
  • Asm , Aydn. A Eurocentric Reflection in Josep Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Tarih Kltr ve Sanat Aratrmalar Dergisi, vol. 7, no. 2, 2018, pp. 230 – 238. EBSCOhost, doi:10.7596/taksad.v7i2.675. Accessed 14 August 2019.
  • Conrad, Joseph Heart of Darkness. The Norton Anthology of Short Fiction, edited by Richard Bausch and R.V. Cassill, W.W. Norton & Company, 2015, pp. 150-210.
  • Shetty, Sandya. Heart of Darkness: Out of Africa Some New Thing Never Comes. Journal of Modern Literature, vol. 15, no.4, pp. 461- 470. EBSCOhost Accessed 14 August 2019.
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