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moralhod Morality in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness

Morality in The Heart of Darkness

“I trust I shall be forgiven the discovery that all moral philosophy hitherto was boring and belonged among the soporifics” (Nietzsche 561). Maybe so, but the issue of moral philosophy has been discussed though out time and provides a significant element in Conrad’s story Heart of Darkness. In general, the timeless discussion traces back to the first philosophical writings of Plato and transcends from general religious grounds to general applications and codes of behavior espoused by Kant and Mills. These individuals and lines of thought try to establish a ‘good’ code of behavior based on something: a benevolent god, extensible codes similar to The Golden Rule, or even relativistic collective opinion. Later, in the eighteen hundreds though the turn of the century, popular thought turned around and attacked such codes though works such as Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, and Nietzsche’s various works like Beyond Good and Evil. In more modern times a kind of balancing of those two streams leads to what Richard Garner describes as amorality, or the discarding of a moral system altogether. Conrad, who wrote Heart of Darkness while his contemporaries were denouncing objective moralities, incorporates much of these philosophies and uses the work as a demonstrative system for a unique morality.

Developing a moral system generally runs into quite a few problems; mainly, and this affects systems of morality based on Judeo-Christian religious principles, that evil exists in the world. A morality based on a Judeo-Christian God enters into a conflict between the omnibenelovence and that existence, for how could an omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenelovent god allow evil to exis…

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…strate his own thoughts of a relativistic morality.

Works Cited

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1988.

Garner, Richard. The Experience of Philosophy. Ed. Daniel Kolak, Raymond Martin. Belmont California: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1996.

Guerard, Albert J. The Journey Within. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1988.

Kant, Immanuel. The Experience of Philosophy. Ed. Daniel Kolak, Raymond Martin. Belmont California: Wadsworth Publishing Company, 1996.

Milton, John. Paradise Lost. New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1993.

Nietzsche, Friedrich. Beyond Good and Evil. Trans. Marianne Cowan. Chicago: Gateway Editions, 1955.

Plato. The four Socratic dialogues of Plato. Trans. Benjamin Jowett. Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1934.

Exposing the Truth in Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong

Exposing the Truth in Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong

“Dear Mom and Dad: The war that has taken my life, and many thousands of others before me, is immoral, unlawful, and an atrocity,” (letter of anonymous soldier qtd. In Fussell 653).

Tim O’Brien, a Vietnam war vet, had similar experiences as the soldier above. Even though O’Brien didn’t die, the war still took away his life because a part of him will never be the same. Even in 1995, almost thirty years after the war, O’Brien wrote, “Last night suicide was on my mind. Not whether, but how. Tonight it will be on my mind again… I sit in my underwear at this unblinking fool of a computer and try to wrap words around a few horrid truths” (Vietnam 560). 1 think that O’Brien is still suffering from what he experienced in Vietnam and he uses his writing to help him deal with his conflicts. In order to deal with war or other traumatic experiences, you sometimes just have to relive the experiences over and over. This is what O’Brien does with his writing; he expresses his emotional truths even if it means he has to change the facts of the literal truth.

The literal truth, or some of the things that happen during war, are so horrible that you don’t want to believe that it could’ve actually have happened. For instance, “[o]ne colonel wanted the hearts cut out of the dead Vietcong to feed to his dog…. Ears were strung together like beads. Parts of Vietnamese bodies were kept as trophies; skulls were a favorite… The Twenty-fifth Infantry Division left a ‘visiting card,’ a torn off shoulder patch of the division’s emblem, stuffed in the mouth of the Vietnamese they killed,” (Fussell 655). While we don’t want to believe these things because they sound too atrocious, soldi…

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…e who sent the soldiers to war are just as responsible as the soldiers for any acts of war they committed.

Works Cited

Fussell, Paul. “Vietnam.” The Bloody Game: An Anthology of Modern War. Ed. Paul Fussell. London: Scribners, 1991. 651-6.

O’Brien, Tim. “How to Tell a True War Story.” Writing as Re-Vision. Eds. Beth Alvarado and Barbara Cully. Needham Heights, MA: Simon

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