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The Use of Philosophical Ideas of Hobbes in Conrad's Novel

Although Joseph Conrad and Thomas Hobbes lived for the duration of different time periods and never had the chance to meet each other, both shared many tips with regards to human nature while they also harbored a few variations in ideologies. Conrad’s Heart of Darkness highlights numerous of these similarities and variations between Conrad’s views and Hobbes’ philosophies.

Conrad’s characterization of Marlow and Kurtz cause these two characters to resemble two sides of Hobbesian philosophy that a society is needed to control the individuals and avoid them from living in a primitive and chaotic state free of moral restrains and regards. Conrad depicts Marlow, before he leaves for the Congo, as a man who comes from Britain, a wealthy, organized and structured country full of “high houses, innumerable windows with venetian blinds” (Conrad, 1899, p.13). According to this aspect of Hobbes’ philosophy, the central government of the western civilization suppressed Marlow’s innate primitive traits, and when Marlow reaches the Congo, Conrad portrays him as a confused man, initially possessing a hard time accepting the fact that both natives and the folks of Western civilizations are ultimately all portion of the exact same race, for to Marlow, the natives seem much more as animals than humans and he ponders about the horrific thought of “[the natives’] humanity – like yours – the thought of your remote kinship with this wild and passionate uproar” (Conrad, 1899, p.58). Seeing this wild state of the individuals in the Congo comes as a deep surprise to Marlow at very first, but contrastingly, Conrad quickly indicates that Kurtz, a veteran of the area, adapted to this predicament in the course of his time in the region. Although Kurtz also as soon as spent his days in Western civilization, Conrad characterized his activities to show that his time in the depths of the Congo heavily impacted him, for “the wilderness has patted him on the heard, and, behold, it was like a ball – an ivory ball it caressed him, and – lo! – he had withered, it had taken him, loved him, embraced him, got into his veins, consumed his flesh, and sealed his soul to its own by the inconceivable ceremonies of some devilish initiation”(Conrad, 1899, p. 79).Away from a central government such as the one particular in Britain, the chaotic nature that Hobbes describes in his philosophies arises as Kurtz, surrounded by the wildness of the non-Westernized Congo, returns to a primitive state.

Not only does Conrad reflect this philosophy in the characters of Marlow and Kurtz, but he also scatters it in much less prominent characters who also exhibit this all-natural state. For instance, Conrad mentions a captain named Fresleven who he initially describes as “the gentlest, quietest creature that ever walked on two legs” (Conrad, 1899, p.12). Conrad, nonetheless, does not further characterize this character in a manner that follows that statement –instead, he chooses to then state that the captain beat a single of the native chiefs in front of a large crowd till the chief’s son speared the captain and chooses to have Marlow mentally justify this man’s action by believing that this act had happened simply because “he had been a couple of years already out there engaged in the noble cause” (Conrad, 1899, p.12). This mental justification falls appropriate in line with the Hobbesian belief concerning the value of an authoritative force, for with out it, the captain acted in a manner that fully went against the European description of the captain when he had spent a few years living in the Congo. Conrad’s depictions of these characters, from Marlow to Fresleven, align with the branch of Hobbes’ philosophy regarding the nature of mankind, for these characterizations stick to this line of believed: when folks are away from a central government, they will face primitive transformations such as the ones that Kurtz and Fresleven faced.

Conrad fostered a belief that humans exist in a organic state of conflict and internal war primarily based on self-interests and desires. The pilgrims and Kurtz embody this belief as Conrad creates westernized imperialists who obsess so considerably over acquiring this wealth that they almost exist in a state of worship as “the word ‘ivory’ rang in the air, was whispered, was sighed. You would feel they were praying to it” (Conrad, 1899, p.35). Conrad centers the interests of Kurtz and the pilgrims on wealth in order to highlight their internal conflicts involving the ivory. Ultimately, their love for ivory shapes them into greedy creatures whose desires for wealth triumph against their moral restraints as the pilgrims exploit the natives for labor and “[snap] ivory from the natives” (Conrad, 1899, p.52). Conrad areas Kurtz at the head of this pack that obsesses more than wealth as Kurtz “[steals] a lot more ivory than all the other agents together” (Conrad, 1899, p.77) with no regard to the consequences that his actions will have on these from which he stole from. Conrad reflects this internal war, as described by Hobbes, over and more than once again as he mentions the consequences of these conflicts due to the want for wealth.

Moreover, Hobbes fostered a belief that people naturally worry that other people will invade them, and therefore may possibly choose to strike initial as an anticipatory defense. Conrad echoes this belief in the interactions among the Europeans and the natives that reside in the Congo. When Conrad depicts Marlow floating down the river in the fog, he incorporates an attack from the natives even though the Europeans had not directly acted out in any way to threaten them as “sticks, little sticks, have been flying about – thick: they have been whizzing prior to my nose, dropping under me, striking behind me against my pilot house” (Conrad, 1899, p.73). In line with the Hobbesian belief, Conrad chose to have the natives along the river strike 1st against the Europeans since they feared that the Europeans would trigger them a lot more harm if they chose not to strike. Right after Kurtz passes away, Conrad illuminates Marlow’s mental turmoil as he fears “the possibility of a sudden onslaught and massacre, or one thing of the type, which I saw impending” (Conrad, 1899, p.108). Conrad after once more incorporates Hobbes’ belief by opening a window to Marlow’s thoughts about the fear of an attack functioning as a defense.

One particular region that Hobbes and Conrad adopted contrasting suggestions on was females. Hobbes insisted on the equality of all folks, explicitly women, because he believed that all men and women face domination and possess the capability to potentially dominate other folks. Conrad, even so, portrayed girls in Heart of Darkness in a diverse manner than he portrayed men, observing “how out of touch with truth women are. They live in a planet of their own, and there has by no means been something like it, and never can be” (Conrad 1899). Conrad implies that woman harsh reality around them although men face the facts. As an alternative of forcing Marlow to inform the Intended Kurtz’s true last words that reflected the horror in the Congo, Conrad chooses to have Marlow preserve the innocence of the lady because he does not believe she can deal with the truth and chooses to have him lie to the Intended, informing her that “the last words he pronounced was – your name” (Conrad 1899). Conrad prefers this deception so that Marlow does not disillusion the Intended and destroy the idealistic version of Kurtz that she has created over the years. While Conrad writes initially in a way that implies that females are lesser than guys, Conrad eventually implies ironically that Marlow is in fact the individual who can't handle the truth. Hobbes would have most probably selected to allow Marlow to inform the Intended the truth about the horrors that Kurtz committed and experienced, but alas, Conrad, not Hobbes, wrote Heart of Darkness.
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