An abstract of the research: heart of darkness: morality and meaning

Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is considered as one of the most difficult and confusing novels in the literary world. The novel has attracted the attention of numerous scholars because of its abundance of symbolism, metaphors, as well as philosophical and psychological issues.
Moreover, in Heart of Darkness, Conrad depicts his most profound and significant point of view into the real human condition and illustrates perhaps his most contemptuous conclusions on the various and conflicting tensions that can be meted out on the moral, psychological and intellectual progress of humanity. One of the objectives of this dissertation, then, is to explore the humanness that underlies the Conrad’s narrative.
Furthermore, Joseph Conrad is definitely a philosophical novelist; however, there are times Conrad refuses to reveal himself as a philosophical thinker yet he still fascinates his audience with his attention to detail. Also, the proposals of his fictional realm increasingly motivate metaphysical and ethical response.
The basic conflict in this fictional realm arises from a two-fold point of view; Conrad aims to advance both the traditional moral imperatives of the Victorian era, and to express his anxieties that the dominating intellectual channels of the nineteenth century were preparing misfortune for the twentieth. This conflict between the advancements and anxieties is most comprehensively shown in the tension between two of the main characters of the Heart of Darkness, Marlow and Kurtz. It has increasingly ascertained itself as the outright modern narrative in the compilation of Conrad for the twentieth century.
Scientifically, Conrad was somehow well-informed and, unlike most of the other prominent modern writers, he neither doubted nor discounted the realities created by natural science. His perspective regarding the significant human implications of these realities, however, was greatly uncertain, and in various ways. Conrad detected a deep intellectual bewilderment underlying contemporary attempts to force integration between science and culture.
Nevertheless, Conrad himself critically denied the hegemony of science and the hypocrisy of science, and ultimately concluded that the arts and life trail dark paths and will not recoil or surrender to the vibrant presence of science.
In this dissertation, the Heart of Darkness will be analysed in terms of the moral and psychological existence of humanity, which then led into generalising assumptions that expressed Joseph Conrad as somehow of an existentialist. It is generally assumed that being an existentialist, Conrad’s Heart of Darkness demonstrates that the individual consciousness was destined to be in complete contradiction to its physical and moral context.
By analysing the characters and dispositions of Marlow and Kurtz, the dissertation will attempt to provide a comprehensive picture of the philosophical and psychological underpinnings of the novel. The contexts, which are European and African, will also be examined in order to place the analysis of characters in their appropriate contexts.
Lastly, the dissertation will attempt to substantiate the claim that Joseph Conrad is indeed a philosophical thinker, and an existentialist at best by thoroughly exploring the novel for its allusion of the dark nature and dreams inherent to humanity.