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Free Essay on Conrad’s Heart of Darkness – Human or Humane?

Heart of Darkness: Human or Humane?

Upon reading Heart of Darkness we are immediately struck with the issue of the “nature of man”, and what it means to be human or humane. To be human means to have a mind, to be living, and function as a primate. To be humane on the other hand means to be tender, compassionate, affectionate, kindhearted, and empathetic. It is often assumed that to be human means to be humane, but as Marlow learned on his excursion through the dark jungle of the Congo, one has nothing to do with the other.

Marlow’s first taste of man’s true self as he saw it, began when he saw the six man chain gang, as was referred to in the book, six black men chained together obviously being treated as inferiors, almost as slaves. “I could see every rib, the joints of their limbs were like knots in a rope;each had an iron collar on his neck, and all were connected together with a chain whose bights swung between them, rhythmically clinking.” (Conrad, pg. 81)

Upon seeing this atrocious sight of men being treated as savages, Marlow compares the white men who are leading these chained up men, to devils, by remarking that he had seen devils, but never devils who drove other men like cattle. Men who were no different then themselves, except in the color of their skin.

As Marlow continues down the Congo, he begins to reflect upon the river, as the river of truth and reality, because as he transcends down it, his ability to find the truth in any situation grows. With every turn, he learns that mans inhumanity to his own kind is man’s greatest sin.

On page 106 Conrad talks about how Marlow felt when he was proceeding towards Kurtz’s station, and he explains that he{Marlow} can feel the past, among the overwhelming realities brought upon by the river, the trees, and the silence.

“There were moments when ones past came back to one, as it will sometimes when you have not a moment to spare to yourself;but it came in the shape of an unrestful and noisy dream,remembered with wonder amongst the overwhelming realities of the strange world of plants,and water, and silence….When you have to attend to things of that sort, to the mere incidents of the surface, the reality- the reality, I tell you-fades.

Free Othello Essays: The Emotions of Othello Othello essays

The Emotions of Othello The motion of this play was based on the relationship or the friendships between Othello, Iago, and Cassio. Although the women in this book played a large role in adding to the vengeful, powerful feel in this play, it all ceased from the relationship between the three men. This play was filled with many different emotions, given by each of the characters when they interacted with each other. The emotions that mainly evolved in this play were: Power, jealousy, revenge and very questionable love between the characters. This story shows how power is such a strong desire of people, that some will stop at nothing to get it and hurting people is an option if they have to do it. This all began with Othello, who is the main character in this book. Othello was a Moor and a General in the Venetian army. He was a very powerful man who made large decisions, one decision which he made changed his life forever. Othello was very trustworthy and trusted. He had so much trust in the people that he was close to, that it affected his life and he believed many things that he should not have. Because of an overabundance of trust and belief in others, this caused him to become a rageful, jealous man. All of his better characteristics were pushed aside deep down in his soul and allowed the worst to get the best of him. All of this jealous rage in Othello came from the lies that the manipulative, evil Iago had told Othello of his wife Desdemona. Iago is Othello’s standard-bearer and he came to hate him, which led Iago to set up Othello and make him pay by destroying his love for his wife Desdemona. Iago had become jealous towards Cassio and vengeful against Othello. He had became this way when Othello appointed Cassio as Lieutenant in the army and not him. Iago felt that he deserved that position as Lieutenant more than Cassio did. Iago also felt that Othello chose Cassio over him for that position because of the friendship between the two. Cassio is a dear friend of Othello and Desdemona. Cassio was friends with Othello before he came to meet Desdemona. Cassio is the person who got Othello and Desdemona together. Othello and Cassio can be looked at as best friends. Since them being friends for so long, the relationship between Cassio and Othello would be expected to be very close and trusting towards on another. Although, what happens in this play questions the friendship between Cassio and Othello. In theory, Cassio not only received that position because he was a close friend of Othello, but because he was more educated, better looking and more skilled than Iago was. The whole downfall of Othello and Iago is caused when the evil and manipulative one goes and tells Othello a lie about Desdemona. Iago feels that the only way to destroy Othello is to destroy the relationship between him and his wife and the friendship between Cassio and Othello. It is known that Desdemona is Othello’s strength and she makes him what he is and he is nothing without her. Iago thinks that if he can destroy their relationship that Othello will automatically become weak and feel that he has nothing to live for and just give up. He tries to destroy the friendship between Cassio and Othello, so that he can take the title of the Lieutenant away from him, and probably be left with no choice but to give that title to Iago. Basically, that is two strikes in one with Othello and will most likely have him to fall and loose his power. What Iago does to complete this mission is that he tells Othello that his loving innocent wife is having an affair with his appointed lieutenant and close friend Cassio. He tried to lead Othello to believe the two were having an affair in Act 3. sc. 3. Iago says to Othello to make him suspect they are having an affair: “Look to your wife; obsevere her well with Cassio,..” At first, Othello does not believe that the love of his life Desdemona would commit such an unfaithful act, and he asks Iago for proof. In Act 3. Sc. 3, Iago says to Othello: “I speak not yet of proof”. At that time, Iago had no proof. Iago went on and on about how Desdemona is flirtatious and how she was not what Othello thought she was, but yet Othello still did not believe him. Of course the idea never left his mind about what Iago lied to him, but it was not a fact to him. The thing that sparked the situation between Othello and Desdemona was when he caught Cassio with the handkerchief. This handkerchief had sentimental meanings between the two of them. Othello gave Desdemona this handkerchief when they first meant to express his love for her, or just his feelings. His mother gave it to him and he gave it to her. When he saw Cassio with that same handkerchief, he though that Desdemona gave it to Cassio, which made him become enraged with jealousy and suspicion. What really happened was that Desdemona misplaced that handkerchief, and Emilia recovered it and she was not going to return it. She gave it to Iago, and Iago gave it to Cassio. That is why Othello saw him with the handkerchief. After that Cassio gave it to Bianca and told her to make a copy of it, and that someone would be back to claim it. Othello spoke to Desdemona while lying on her deathbed about the handkerchief. He mentions to her in Act 5. sc 2: “That handkerchief Which I so loved, and gave thee, thou gav’st to Cassio.” He immediatley accused her of giving it to Cassio, by jumping to conclusions. She told him it was not so and he asked her where it was and she could not tell him, and this made him even more enraged, and he though she was lying. Othello from this point on continually blamed his innocent wife for committing an unfaithful act, but he never came out and asked her if she had or was having an affair with Cassio. Othello had called Desdemona a whore in Act 5. sc. 2: “Out strumpet”. This point here shows that Othello’s trust was not as strong as readers may have thought it was. There was a lack of communication between the two at this time, because if there really was communication between them, then he would have asked her about it, and Cassio as well. There was also a lack of communication between Cassio and Othello. If they had a good friendship, they should have had a good communication level, which they could not of have or Othello would have asked him about the accused affair between Desdemona and Cassio. He never confronted Desdemona about the rumor, or Cassio. If their friendship was really that tight, ten he should have confronted him about it as well. Then again, maybe Othello was just so upset and hurt that any solution to this problem may have been blocked out of his mind. Although he did jump to conclusions about this whole situation, but I guess at that time everything was coming together about that thought, but it was all occurring just coincidentally. At this time, Othello’s characteristics towards these characters had become questionable. It was like was her really the things that he was supposed to be to them. Did he really trust Desdemona enough to believe that she would cheat on him? Were him and Cassio such good friends for him to think that Cassio would do such a thing to him? Was Iago really not a trustworthy person, because Othello did not believe him in the beginning, but the though never left his mind. For Othello to believe Iago, before even questioning Cassio or Desdemona shows that Othello allowed Iago to manipulate him. Othello became weak and allowed Iago turn him into what he became, which lead to the death of his wife and himself. Not to mention the death of Emilia, wife of Iago and Desdemona’s mistress. Iago started all of this chaos with no good intentions at all. All of this was one great big set up and all planned out. Although Iago was looked upon as the evil one in this story, I think he was cool. I think that because he in a way he had the power to hypnotize people and made them believe everything that he said. Not only that, but most of the things that he set up went the way he wanted them too, making his whole plan successful. If they were dumb enough to let him do that to them all, then I don’t see why he would have stopped. I guess that is the way that he though of the situation. If they believe every lie that I tell them, to get what I want I am going to continue to lie to them. That was the though of Iago, but it only ended up affecting him at the end of the play. He did get the satisfaction of manipulating Othello, Cassio and other characters, and causing chaos throughout the book. He at one point became the center of attraction, but at the end he seemed to pay for it all, not physically but mentally. Taking the lives of innocent people, just for power and out of revenge and jealousy. He was so desperate for power that he stopped at nothing to get it. He was satisfied at the end of the play, but he was forever going to live miserably, because of all the confusion that he cause, all the hearts he had broke, and all the lies that he had told. Othello before he killed himself tells Iago in other words that he will have to live with what he did, and Iago’s response to that was: Demand me nothing. What you know, you know. From this time forth, I will never speak word” (Act5. sc.2). What he meant by this was that whoever was involved with what went on are the only people who will ever know about it, because from that time on, he will act as if nothing ever happened. The relationship between these characters have played an important role in the motion of this story. There was lack of several factors in these relationships, which caused the actions that took place. Many of these actions which were very dangerous and life threatening. Due to the fact that these relationships were so questionable, they caused these characters to act in different ways creating the endless motions of revenge, jealousy and hatred between them all. These feelings which never were discovered until the climax of the play, had to have always been there deep inside these characters towards one another. Although there is still a question about that. The question that stil remains is: were these feelings really rooted in these characters towards one another, or did certain actions taken by them cause these feelings to come out against them? The relationships between them have changed over the course of time, and this was only caused due to the actions that these characters have taken. Friendships can seriously be dangerous if there is a struggle for power between each of the friends. A person will do anything for power, even if it means hurting others.

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