Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness was one of the most interesting books I had to read in high school. My English teacher brought in her friend, who had taught/studied the book for many years, to go through the book chapter by chapter. He explained a lot about the book and Conrad’s life, information that was all briefly covered in lecture this week. Listening to Monday’s lecture really brought back my interest in this novella and its ambiguities. The thing that struck me the most was the paradox of human progress. The fact that what we saw as immense industrial progress came at the cost hundreds of thousands of lives shows a sort of moral regression. Even today for the mass production of all the revolutionary technology being created, millions of people are being mistreated and forced to work for next-to-nothing in deplorable conditions. Many consider people today as morally or intellectually greater than people from centuries past, but we fall into the same patterns and pitfalls. We are morally no different than the colonizers of the past, only now we exploit poorer countries with sweatshops, the sex trade…etc. The same lack of morality applies as we are still taking advantage of resources and the labour of those who have no other choice. Like what was said in lecture, the heart or darkness is not necessarily found in a foreign, unknown land but in those who exploit people less fortune then themselves, and those who stand idly by and let them do it. Can we be worse then the era of European colonization?

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  1. Very good points here, and good to bring up in seminar, as you did today. Pointing to those who stand idly by is important; Marlow seems to be one of those, but might we say that many of us are? It’s not like we can’t go out and find the information as to what we should and should not buy (e.g., with sweatshop labour). Of course, we can also think about exploitation going on right here at home as well…we don’t even have to look very far away to find it.

    I like how you’ve brought some of the themes of the novella home to our own lives; we might like to think we’ve moved on from those wrong-headed colonialists, but have we? or has it just changed? Very thought-provoking questions.

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