J. Conrad’s Heart of Darkness: an Inner Battle

January 12, 2021 by Essay Writer

The Universal Innate Struggle Between Evil and Good

In Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, he discusses the battle between innate evil and goodness present in every human being. Through development of the novel’s characters, Conrad articulates what causes a person to allow either his bad intentions or his good intentions to dominate. By juxtaposing the characters of Marlow and Kurtz, Joseph Conrad suggests that in order to prevent succumbing to natural evil intentions, or the heart of darkness, one must consciously avoid fixation on worldly desires. These secular ambitions are the cause of Kurtz’s utter submission to his inner evil. Although both Kurtz and Marlow have made the same physical journey into Africa’s interior, these men and their spiritual journeys are set apart by their choices, which inevitably allow them to emphasize either their detrimental characteristics or admiral ones. Kurtz’s secular desire for ivory and his blind ambition for company position compel him to abandon society’s constraints and travel to the Congo, where his isolation forces him to discovers his dark self. Kurtz’s insatiable longing for worldly items leads him to do inhuman actions, such as placing African heads on stakes around his dwelling. He descends into savagery: he gives into his inner darkness and evil. In contrast, Marlow, who makes the same journey as Kurtz, initially begins with a different intent and mindset. He values his work, but is bound by honor and truth; he “hate[s], detest[s], can’t bear a lie,”. Eventually, his accountability and moral system allow Marlow to rise above his heart of darkness and leave the Congo safely, while Kurtz’s surrender leads to his death. In today’s modern society, the notion of limiting secular yearnings and ambitions is still applicable because mankind continues to grapple with secular attractions; human beings still struggle with succumbing to their innate goodness or evil. When Conrad writes that there were people who “were men enough to face the darkness,” he is imploring mankind to acknowledge the presence of both good and evil the soul, but to emphasize the good by checking worldly desires and ambitions.

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