Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness
3 Pages
677 Words

Joseph Conrad¹s novel Heart of Darkness is about a seaman named

Charlie Marlow and an experience he had as a younger man. Early in

the novel it becomes apparent that there is a great deal of tension

in Marlow¹s mind about whether he should profit from the immoral

actions of the company he works for which is involved in the ivory

trade in Africa. Marlow believes that the company is ignorant of the

tension between moral enlightenment and capitalism . The

dehumanization of its laborers which is so early apparent to Marlow

seems to be unknown to other members of the Company¹s management.

In this story Marlow¹s aunt represents capitalism. Her efforts to get

him a job are significant because of the morally compromising nature

of the work of which she seems totally ignorant. When Marlow expresses

doubts about the nature of the work, she replies, ³You forget, dear

Charlie, that the labourer is worthy of his hire² (12). It is clear

that Marlow has mixed feelings about the whole idea. At one point,

trying to justify his actions to himself, he says, ³You understand it

was a continental concern, that Trading Society; but I have a lot of

relations on the living continent, because it¹s cheap and not so nasty

as it looks they say² (12). Marlow finally takes the job, however,

and tells himself that the pain and unusually harsh treatment the

workers are subjected to is minimal.

During the tests and the requirements that he has to undergo before

entering the jungle Marlow feels that he is being treated like a

freak. The doctor measures his head and asks him questions such as,

³Ever any madness in your family?² (15). In this part of the story

Marlow is made to feel small and unimportant. Any feelings or

concerns that he has are not important to the company, and as a

result, he feels alone. It is only logical that Marlow would have been


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