Poor Assumptions and Flawed Conclusions of Conrad's Heart of Darkness

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During the period when Joseph Conrad's novel Heart of Darkness was written, a common theme in literature was the testing of the moral life through actual experience. One could not realize an ethical principle without it being justified through the outcome of some practical conflict. This idea of testing morality through experience is exactly what is presented in Conrad's novel as Marlow's journey results in a trial that not only defines his own beliefs but allows him to make a rather pessimistic conclusion on the morality of mankind. This realization comes about through the author's double presentation of imperialism in which it is both glorified and criticized. Marlow begins his narration with a vague position on the issue that …show more content…
He even admits that he tries to keep his distance from any real connection to one side. He explains, "I had no time…when you have to attend to things of that sort (sailing the steamer), to the mere incidences of the surface, the reality…fades."(pg.61) He describes the violent death of his predecessor with very little opinion on the matter at all. He states:

I couldn't let it rest though; but… what became of the hens I don't know

either. I should think the cause of progress got them, anyhow. However,

through this glorious affair I got my appointment…(pg.13)

To call this event a "glorious affair" appears rather cold, but it does demonstrates that Marlow had no real opinion on the conflict other than it provided him his opportunity. Later, as Marlow prepares his ship for the journey, he surveys the men at the station and states, "I asked myself sometimes what it all meant."(pg.39) He may question the situation at first, but he does not truly make the attempt to understand it at that point. Later he is forced to confront it. Still, it is Marlow's distancing of himself from the action around him that allows him to make his general judgements about Imperialism and anti-imperialism.

In the beginning, Marlow maintains his distance
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