Always A Question Of Intensity In The Immoralist And The Heart Of Darkness

Submitted By Pierre-Olivier-Brass
Words: 1027
Pages: 5

Always a Question of Intensity

As we are civilized human beings, the fact that we are living in communities is something usual, not to say something instinctual. To make life comfortable for everyone, rules have been fixed, norms have been established and law courts have been built. There is a line between what someone should do and should not do. I believe this line is made up of morality and integrity in order to disunite the good and the bad into two clear portions. Then, on the good side, there are the moral things and on the bad side, there are all the immoral. Yet, despite the clearness and the coherence of this, there is still something ambiguous about such a drastic separation: the gradation of actions. For example, steeling a lollipop from the grocery store is something ‘’immoral’’, but kidnapping someone`s child is situated way higher in the scale of immorality, and therefore, should be penalized in a way more severe manner. In the books ‘’The Immoralist’’ by Andre Gide and ‘’The Heart of Darkness’’ by Joseph Conrad, both principal characters are immoralists but at a different degree. Before all else, analyzing their behaviors, I will illustrate how they can be considered as immoralists. Then only, I will be able to explain the differences in the nature of Michel and in the nature of Kurtz.
To begin, Michel and Kurtz are two comparable characters when it comes to the analysis of the wicked and reprehensible life they had lived. However, they seem to confine themselves at a different level in the scale of immorality. For his part, Michel is a regular man on the quest of happiness, freedom and unadorned life. From the very beginning, he is profoundly egocentric in his self-being; yet this is exactly what leads him to turn into an immoral person. Moreover, the other part of Michel’s immoral facet is the fact that he adores contradiction. He cannot stand honest and genuine people, he prefers the company of the dishonest. Michel hates weakness and therefore, in his behaviors, he unconsciously supresses everything or everyone that has weaknesses, including Marceline. However, all this selfishness does not reach as high as Kurtz does on the scale of immorality. The main difference is that Michel is not causing intentionally and consciously pain to anyone except maybe himself, while Kurtz has gone mad over a whole population of Natives. In the same way, Kurtz does not care about anyone else than himself, but he is more willing to injure anyone that gets on his way while Michel is more of a pacifist. Their quest is also distinct: Kurtz is going to Africa to take ivory by force as opposed to Michel who is traveling to grasp the purity of life. When describing his mission of civilization, Kurtz uses the words ``extermination`` and ``suppression``. Here, the suppression evocated is quite different than the one of Michel towards the weak ones. Michel would never have killed or tortured anyone because he or she was weak. Kurtz, for his part, is a violent dictator, an openly racist individual and seemingly a man that has gone mad over his power. Also, while Michel is following Ménalque`s philosophy of non-possession, Kurtz is obsessed by possessing and controlling. For all these clear distinctions, I strongly believe Kurtz has gone further in his immorality than Michel has gone.
Now, let`s compare their nature. As I mentioned before, their motivation is not the same, and so are not their behaviors, but they do relate to one another in a specific way: their inner reaction. Both feel a little guilt inside, and both try to rationalize and self-justify their actions, but once again, in different ways. Michel`s actions are often unconsciously evil while Kurtz`s ones are always done consciously. For example, Michel traveling with Marceline despite her sickness can be seen as