week 5 response

week 5 response - Kurtz follows his instincts and becomes...

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Week Five Response: Question Two In Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness , the men of the novel, working for a company, attempt to "civilize" the wild African people. They claim that they are at work for a humanitarian effort. However, throughout the novel it is accepted by the protagonist, Morel, that the true motives of the company lay in acquiring a profit and not in the betterment of humanity. In their effort to make a profit, the company employs the use of the natives as slave labor. The managers of the company engage in atrocious acts of violence against the natives and treat them as subhuman individuals. Each particular character in Conrad's story develops different coping mechanisms in response to their actions. In Kurtz' case, Kurtz does not reconciles the atrocities he has committed well. He develops a primal personality by reverting to his most his most basic human nature. Kurtz acts on urges, rather than sense and what culture has taught him.
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Unformatted text preview: Kurtz follows his instincts and becomes the alpha male; taking control of the natives as their god. Kurtz justifies his right to power, “By the simple exercise of our will we can exert a power for good practically unbounded". Kurtz' response is ironic in the sense that he set out to civilize the native population, but in the process of civilizing them the atrocities he committed changed him to a quite uncivilized form. Kurtz does come to his senses during his final moments when he accepts the horrors he committed and throws off the personality he created to hide himself from them. I believe Conrad uses the varying responses of his characters to reflect the different sides of human nature. The company politically justifies their imperialism by claiming that they were on a civilizing mission. But as we learn from the characters that carried out this mission, the act of violating human rights cannot be mentally reconciled so easily....
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This note was uploaded on 09/18/2011 for the course L&S 140D taught by Professor Laqueur during the Spring '11 term at Berkeley.

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