Heart Of Darkness
Joseph Conradıs novel Heart of Darkness is about a seaman named Charlie Marlow
and an experience he had as a younger man. Early in the novel it becomes
apparent that there is a great deal of tension in Marlowıs mind about whether
he should profit from the immoral actions of the company he works for which is
involved in the ivory trade in Africa. Marlow believes that the company is
ignorant of the tension between moral enlightenment and capitalism . The
dehumanization of its laborers which is so early apparent to Marlow seems to be
unknown to other members of the Companyıs management. In this story Marlowıs
aunt represents capitalism. Her efforts to get him a job are significant because
of the morally compromising nature of the work of which she seems totally
ignorant. When Marlow expresses doubts about the nature of the work, she
replies, ³You forget, dear Charlie, that the labourer is worthy of his hire²
(12). It is clear that Marlow has mixed feelings about the whole idea. At one
point, trying to justify his actions to himself, he says, ³You understand it
was a continental concern, that Trading Society; but I have a lot of relations
on the living continent, because itıs cheap and not so nasty as it looks they
say² (12). Marlow finally takes the job, however, and tells himself that the
pain and unusually harsh treatment the workers are subjected to is minimal.

During the tests and the requirements that he has to undergo before entering the
jungle Marlow feels that he is being treated like a freak. The doctor measures
his head and asks him questions such as, ³Ever any madness in your family?²
(15). In this part of the story Marlow is made to feel small and unimportant.

Any feelings or concerns that he has are not important to the company, and as a
result, he feels alone. It is only logical that Marlow would have been second
guessing his decision and feeling some kinship with the other (black) workers
who are exploited, but he does not reveal any such understanding. Upon reaching
his destination in Africa, Marlow finds that things are just the same. At the
point when he is denied rest after traveling twenty miles on foot he sees things
are not going to change. Marlow then tells of how disease and death are running
wild through out the area, and the company does nothing in the way of prevention
other than to promote those who stay alive. Marlowıs theory on why the manager
was in that position was that ³...he was never ill² (25). This is a bad
situation for Marlow because he sees his boss as a simple man with little else
to offer the company other than to be a mindless foreman over the operation.

This is an example of the company stripping self worth from its workers in the
sense that it does not encourage or expect input from them. This is all
significant because Marlow finds himself in a position where he is giving up a
big piece of himself and his beliefs to make money. The tension between
capitalism and moral enlightenment in the first twenty pages of this story is
evident. Conrad uses Marlow to depict a seemingly good-hearted person caught in
the middle of the common dilemma of moral ethics and desire for monetary
success. Marlow knows that there is a great deal of repugnance in what he is
doing, yet he finds himself forced to deal with it in his own personal way,
which is justify it or ignore it. It is clear that the company also is forced to
deal with this same issue, but it does it simply by pretending that it is not
dehumanizing its entire work force. This blindness allows the Company to profit
and prosper, but only at the expense of the lives of the workers in the jungle
who have no way to protest or escape and the ³white collar² workers like

Marlow who have to live with their hypocrisy.