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Heart Of Darkness Vs Crime And Punishment

777 words - 3 pages

In the novel’s “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad and “Crime and Punishment” by Fyodor Dostoevsky, the author’s discuss good and evil and how it relates to reality and illusion. Conrad discusses it through Marlow’s journey through the Congo and its comparison to his homeland of imperialist Europe. Dostoevsky discusses it through the development of the main character, Raskolnikov, after his murder and his “split” personality. There are clear distinctions in the novels between good and evil, the Congo representing evil and Europe representing good; and Raskolnikov’s thinking and beliefs in which one wants to do good, and the other bad. These distinctions can also be related to people’s views of illusion and reality.

When Marlow enters the Congo, he realizes that he is coming out of his safe haven of London where he knows everything. He has now entered a place in which a man is truly alone. He can rely on no one but himself for survival. Many view the Congo, which is filled with darkness and the likes, as an evil place. But I believe that eventually to Marlow, the Congo represents reality. London represents a place where life and its events are cushioned, where true human nature is not revealed. He begins to realize that life is not always pretty and perfect, and first sees this when he goes to the First Station along the Congo and sees six sickly looking men in chains, and could see every bone in their body. These men represent pain, suffering and even redemption in real life, and the sight makes Marlow feel uncomfortable because he is so used to his sheltered life. This sight could also be used to represent dehumanization and evil, but not everything in life is good and moral, which is a fact that Marlow must come to realize. In the novel, the naïve, save-all, imperialist Europeans feel that they need to shed their light of know-how and life on the inhabitants of the “dark” Congo. This contrast of light and darkness implies that there is a gap between them because the Europeans seem to represent all that is right and good, whereas the Congo represents and evil and wrongdoings. Marlow thinks that many of the men in Congo are mistreated and lead horrible lives and...

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