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The overall view of human nature in heart of darkness shown through the characters.

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Introduction

Deepak Mathews 11F 3. The overall view of human nature in heart of darkness shown through the characters. In the book Heart of Darkness, Conrad gives us a negative impression of human nature. Conrad's views of human nature are very pessimistic and he gives us the feeling that humans are in fact inhuman and as we read on these terrible images of the evil deeds of humans keeps reoccurring. In reality many of human characteristics we possess resemble those given in the book. However, we also catch glimpses of the caring and helpful side of man shown through Marlow and the Russian. The author uses different characters to explore different aspects of human nature. Each character has his own distinctive identity and through his individuality we are able to identify with many of the views and ideas Conrad is trying to communicate. In order to fully understand the concepts of human nature, we have to classify the characters in the novel into three different categories. The first category is comprised of the Europeans, but excludes Kurtz and Marlow. The reason Marlow doesn't fit with the Europeans is because he refuses to follow their example and act as they do. Kurtz meanwhile has drifted into his own little world. The second category is made up of the natives, while Kurtz and Marlow together form the third category. ...read more.

Middle

(p.61). Their behaviour on the boat, their will to work even though they are paid nothing and how they eat practically nothing are demonstrations of a great character strength, which Marlow envies. The image of the "savages" keeps reappearing in the text. The fireman is described as the "...savage who was a fireman..." (p.63) Here Marlow is expressing his view that all the natives are savages, even the ones Marlow considers decent. The image he describes "...and he had filed teeth, too, the poor devil, and the wool of his pate shaved into queer patterns and three ornamental scars of his cheeks" (p.64) seems to apply to all natives. Marlow's views about the natives seem to contradict each other, but he probably trying to say that the natives are seen as the savages from the outside are decent people on the inside. From the information the book gives us we can make a valid comparison between natives and the Europeans. The Africans, on one hand, are uncivilized people, who actually have sense. On the other hand, the Europeans regard themselves as a superior race and all they want to do is conquer more territory. The third and final category contains only two members, those being the main characters Kurtz and Marlow. We have to classify them separately because the characteristics they have are unique compared to everyone else but similar to each other. ...read more.

Conclusion

The disregard for the starving man demonstrates the lack of concern the other Europeans have for the natives. Marlow, meanwhile, shows that he actually has feelings. The Russian is another character who doesn't get absorbed into all the savagery; he has no interest in the money or ivory in Africa, but "...he was gallantly, thoughtlessly alive....glamour urged him on, glamour kept him unscathed." (p.90) His life had no purpose and he is an example of what a typical human being is not like. Heart of Darkness illustrates that we as humans are in no way perfect. We can make an overall judgment of the view of human nature only in a broad sense. We cannot narrow in on the specific details and make conclusions. The overall view is negative and that's as far as we can go. Each character gives us a different sense of what the view really is. However, through the characters Conrad tells us that humans can be evil or do good deeds and what be become can have a lot to do with the atmosphere we live in and the people we live with. The Europeans represent the dark side of human nature, while the natives represent the positive side. This is in a way contradictory to the outward appearance of the natives and the Europeans. What Conrad did achieve in exploring human nature using different characters was that he established that each of us are different and we cannot make generalized judgments which will apply for everyone. ...read more.

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