Essay about Analysis Of Joseph Conrad 's Heart Of Darkness

1165 Words Oct 25th, 2015 5 Pages
Ethics define right and wrong in the world; without them the world would be lost in chaos. However, if ethics are viewed from a cultural relativism perspective, they can be seen in a very different light. Cultural relativism is defined as “Each person’s culture is the standard by which actions are to be measured” (Wilkens, 2011, pg. 29). In Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad presents several key ethical dilemmas about race, imperialism, and corruption. Ethics, at the time this book was written, was completely different then they are today. Europe was the super power at the time. Although Britain and France were the most powerful, the book centralizes its attention on Belgium, who ruled the Congo. From an outside perspective, the colonist’s actions would seem barbaric, but from a relativistic perspective they can be seen as just. Through the normative system of cultural relativism, the ethical questions raised in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, consisting of imperialism, racism, and the corruption of man, can be examined to determine whether or not these issues were morally right or wrong.
Imperialism and colonization is a central theme in Heart of Darkness. The Congo at this time was ruled by King Leopold the II of Belgium, who was a brutal and greedy man. He sent men to subjugate the natives, take their natural resource of ivory, and take control. If this was done today, a war would be fought. But were the actions of the imperialistic Europeans morally wrong according to…

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