Heart Of Darkness Greed Analysis

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The Evil of Greed in Inferno and Heart of Darkness Though Conrad and Dante wrote their pieces centuries apart, Heart of Darkness and Inferno have striking similarities that readers cannot ignore. Both writers have rather bleak and downcast portrayals of humans and their propensity towards evil. In particular, both texts specifically examine the characteristic of greed in human behavior. Conrad and Dante are both quick to highlight the dangers of greed and the impact it has on the individual’s soul. Conrad goes further to describe the damage that is wrought on others when someone is greedy, while Dante depicts in graphic clarity the punishment that the greedy have to endure in the afterlife. In doing so, they portray a critique of greed and…show more content…
This obsession then results in the loss of one’s own identity and humanity. Conrad shows this in a very dramatic way. In Heart of Darkness, Conrad writes that “the word ‘ivory’ rang in the air, was whispered, was sighed. You would think they were praying to it.” (Conrad, 26) The words “whispered” and “sighed” create this sense of reverence. Conrad makes it seem like a material object had become a focus of the book’s characters – almost in a religious way. Cumulatively, this is further emphasized when Conrad writes that “you would think they were praying to it.” By using such a sarcastic tone, Conrad makes it clear that the book’s characters see ivory as an object of worth but disregard the exploitative nature of the ivory trade at the same time. Conrad goes further to write that “a taint of imbecile rapacity blew through it all, like a whiff from some corpse.” (26) The simile “like a whiff from some corpse” can be interpreted to be a literal reference to the death of elephants and native people that result from the ivory trade. The sense of decay that is created by the simile also reflects the moral degradation that results from greed. Similarly, in Dante’s Inferno, the Master remarks that “the undiscerning life that made them filthy now renders them unrecognizable.” (VII. 53-54) Similarly, the moral degradation that Conrad writes about is also inside Dante’s Inferno.…show more content…
Conrad presents a critique of greed by illustrating how greed harms both the greedy and their victims. He frequently uses images of death and decay to make it apparent to the reader that greed is a cause of moral degradation. On the other hand, Dante does not illustrate the effects that greed has on the victims. Rather, he depicts the punishments that the greedy have to endure in the afterlife. In doing so, he presents a warning to the living against being greedy. As such, though Conrad and Dante approach the subject of greed in differing ways, they both highlight the need for mankind to curb their greedy impulses and preserve their
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