Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, achieved classical recognition for its depiction of humanity’s struggle to reconcile good and evil. From the very opening pages of the Bible man has wrestled with choice, opportunity, propensity and instinct. The knowledge of good and evil has surely caused us to die to simplicity and burdened us At first it was a struggle for me to get from page to page because of Conrad’s intricate details. I was not accustomed to his unique writing style and I would often find myself lost in his descriptive language. I soon became frustrated with both the book and myself, which made it even more of a task to read.
The devastating transition of Kurtz was the factor that awoke my interest. Kurtz, a highly respectable man full of talent and potential was taken over by the evil that stirred from deep within his soul. I found this change of character fascinating because of my interest in the field of psychology. I find the study of human nature intriguing, which attracted me to Kurtz. Conrad had made me wonder what made someone of Kurtz’s caliber change so drastically. I found myself relating this change in character to a personal experience. A year ago someone whom I knew and trusted betrayed me.
I saw a side of her that I would have never even imagined was there. Something deep from within caused this person to hurt me, an evil that even she was not aware she possessed. This event in my life made me question what separates the weak from the strong, the good from the evil, or even Kurtz from Marlow? Kurtz’s transition from good to evil led me to the issue of nature vs. nurture. This question of whether hereditary or environment is responsible for the development of ones personality has been around for centuries, and still it remains unanswered. We have discussed this question many times in psychology.
Some feel that your personality is reflective of your genetic makeup, and that personality will stay the same regardless of environment. Others are convinced that environment shapes personal characteristics. In The Heart of Darkness, Kurtz seems to have changed because of the environment. He was placed in an atmosphere where his evil instincts were able to take over. Kurtz began to murder and he set himself apart from the society in which he developed. The question is whether or not Kurtz was corrupted because of this environment, or if these traits were always in his genetic makeup.
We can also relate this to our every day experiences. Are the people blessed with successful genes more likely to survive better in our society than those placed in healthy environments? Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness was worth conquering the initial struggle I had with his writing style. Conrad’s unique portrayal of the nature of good vs. evil grabbed my attention and challenged my imagination. As I became comfortable with Conrad’s descriptive language I was not only ably to find the inner meaning of his book but relate his concepts to my personal feelings and experiences as well.