Heart of Darkness
Violence is an inherent part of human nature. In the past, the human race has created laws and guidelines that limit these acts against one another. But what if we were to take those rules away? What would transpire in a godless, ruthless place where humans are given free reign over one another? The violence and cruelty that Joseph Conrad portrays in Heart of Darkness is an insight into what horrid acts humans in their most primal of mentalities are capable of committing against one another.
Conrad suggests that violence and cruelty result when law is absent and man allows himself to be ruled by whatever brutal passions lie within him. The scenes of violence throughout the book escalate from simple abuse to unspeakable and indescribable horrors. Kurtz systematically engages in human plunder. Marlow witnesses scenes where natives are chained by iron collars around their necks, starved, beaten, cannibals living off of rotten hippo meat, forced into meaningless toil, and sometimes even murdered, which are all prime examples of the human species’ natural cruel disposition to one another. At one point approaching the inner station, Marlow notices a “head that seemed to sleep at the top of that pole”, which was only the first of a line of skulls on pikes, which Kurtz explained to him was the only way to subdue “rebellious” men. Beyond this, it is implied that Kurtz has had human sacrifices performed for him. Under such circumstances, anything is possible, and what Conrad projects through these words is his own take on how human nature is naturally dark and cruel. Kurtz is the complete epitome of how savagery and primal instincts can corrupt one’s take on the world, while Marlow may represent Conrad’s own outlook on human nature as naturally cruel and self-servient.
There are many positive and negative aspects and moral consequences of labeling human violence as a biological behavior. This idea has been debated and supported or rejected by Sigmund Freud, Conrad Lorenz, and other noted anthropologists. Some of these philosophers believe that human violence is part of human makeup. In other words, they feel that people are born with these instincts. Other ...
And so, through these many examples of how human nature in today’s society is just a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Human nature as portrayed by Conrad is simply that we are disposed to be cruel and violent to the point of chaining, murdering, and enslaving each other.