Heart of Darkness and London Essay

Heart of Darkness and London were both written by writers who wanted to emphasize individuality over collective institutions. Joseph Conrad and William Blake, respectively, while separated by many years in their writings, both manifest the damage of a “civilization” where humans live within bounds. The authors argue that bounds, or principles, in civilization result in a society driven only by the thought of success. Both writers lived in a time during which their societies were undergoing rapid change. Conrad lived during the Age of Imperialism whereas Blake lived during the Industrial Revolution. In these two works, the writers argue that societies have become amoral – completely devoid of any questions of right or wrong. One example of this amorality is when Marlow says, “I…have been transported into some lightless region of subtle horrors, where pure, uncomplicated savagery was a positive relief.”Joseph Conrad uses the example of Belgium and the Congo to demonstrate amorality. The journey of Marlow towards the Inner Station and Kurtz is described by Marlow as a journey into prehistoric times. The journey reveals “truth stripped of its cloak of time” where “principles won’t do”. Marlow implies that humans have evolved from prehistoric times to develop rules and customs which have cloaked their real nature.In line 8 of London, William Blake argues that the social restrictions the inhabitants of London are put into are partly the result of their own narrow-mindedness which he calls “mind forg’d manacles”. Blake, a Romantic poet, emphasized the inability of man being able to unify himself with nature and find human spirit. In this line, he states that inhabitants of civilized society put psychological restr…

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…he amorality in civilization. This is indicated by “Marriage hearse”, which is an oxymoron. While these two words have different connotations, in Blake’s London, they become indistinguishable as there is no judgment based on right and wrong in civilized society.While the title London invokes images of one of the world’s most powerful cities at a time when economic growth is a primary contributor to the city’s success, the content of the poem reveals the exploitation and hypocrisy needed to keep a city so strong. Both Heart of Darkness and London reveal the damage inflicted by societies governed by principles and the harm of institutions. They assert that humans have lost touch with nature, and in their desire for success, the question of right versus wrong becomes success versus failure. Thus, civilization can no longer be judged on the premise of morality.


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