Heart of Darkness

Hobbesian Philosophy in Conrad's Heart of Darkness 12th Grade

Though Joseph Conrad and Thomas Hobbes lived during different time periods and never had the opportunity to meet each other, both shared several ideas regarding human nature while they also harbored a few differences in ideologies. Conrad’s Heart of Darkness highlights several of these similarities and differences 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 necessary to control the people and prevent 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 characteristics, and when Marlow reaches the Congo, Conrad portrays him as a confused man, initially having a hard time accepting the fact that both natives and the people of Western civilizations are ultimately all part of the same race, for to Marlow, the...

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