The political philosopher Benjamin Constant argued, “no one has a right to a truth which injures others.” The question of lying has been debated for centuries: where should one draw the line with lying? Should one try to never tell lies? Can the public handle the truth? In Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness, Marlow, the protagonist, tried to answer this conundrum. He lied three times during the course of his story, each time becoming larger than the last. As the philosopher Kant argued, once a lie is told, the concept of truth itself is attacked, leading to increasingly great lies until they become too large for the liar himself. In this novella, Marlow began by lying to someone of no consequence; subsequently he lied to the…show more content… A reader wants to trust the author. The way the book is written, as someone else’s story, makes the reader question what is being said. How does one know that the speaker is trustworthy when they can tell he is hiding his true feelings from himself and the others at some parts in the story?
The first time that Marlow introduced the idea of lying is when he let the first-class agent at the Central Station believe he was more influential than he actually was. After committing this minor falsehood, he explained in depth that it was unusual for him to lie, as if to assure the reader not to worry. Explaining not only to the men on the Nellie, but also to the readers, “You know I hate, detest, and can’t bear a lie, not because I am straighter than the rest of us, but simply because it appalls me. There is a taint of death, a flavor of mortality in lies—which is exactly what I hate and detest in the world—what I want to forget” (32), he was not trying to convince them that he did not lie ever, but that when he did, it as for a specific, important reason. He lowered himself to the level of the pilgrims, the worst of society in their power-hungry mindset, because of his lie. Another important aspect of this quote is that it was said before Marlow entered the wildness of Africa, and it’s as if he lost his innocence of the world. Before Africa, he was just as blind to the realities of the world as the other Europeans. After this small lie, he underwent experiences in