The Heart of Darkness vs Crime and Punishment: Compare & Contrast
Each society presents its people with the morals and values that guide them. There are however standard morals that are accepted all over the world in governing the people. Literature as art enhances these morals by illuminating on characters who replicate realities in life. There are, however, literary texts that arguably step over the moral boundaries. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky and The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad are stories that seemingly stepped over the moral boundaries. Their response to this stepping over is however different.
In both The Heart of Darkness and Crime and Punishment, the authors presented aspects of dehumanization. In The Heart of Darkness, Conrad majors on a dreamlike story of adventure and mystery set in Africa. However, this is only on the surface and symbolically, it presents his inner being. Conrad creates an image of greed, psychological regression, and the destruction of the African environment. The relationship between Conrad and the main character, Marlow, is a fertile area of critical discussion. It is arguable that Marlow is Conrad’s spokesman.
The image that Conrad portrays of Africa and the native Africans can be considered an act of stepping over the moral boundaries. For instance, the men working at the company describe their brutal actions towards Africans as trade and part of civilization. Marlow views Africans as tools. In this book, it is arguable that the kind of dehumanization that Conrad portrays is harder to be identified than open racism or colonial violence. While this novel presents a strong condemnation to operations of hypocrisy, it offers a set of concerns that engulfs race that is troubling. Ultimately, Kurtz ends up a lonely man without any illusions, no faith, no fear, no pretense, just struggling with his soul. Marlow on the other hand struggles to encounter Kurtz but does not achieve his intentions. He has to travel back alone, leaving Kurtz’s dead body and lies to his fiancée about his last words.
Crime and Punishment is an unbelievably juicy story that is open to varieties of interpretations from readers. At the onset of the book, the writer introduces readers to the main character, Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov, who is contemplating committing a crime. It is important to note that Raskolnikov is a symbolic name here. The term ‘askol’ refers to split or schism. This portrays a struggle between the human being and the intellectual being in this character. Stepping over the boundaries of morality in this novel has been presented a little differently from The Heart of Darkness. In Crime and Punishment, alienation is the initial evidence of stepping over moral boundaries. Raskolnikov is presented as a proud character who views himself as superior to the rest of the people. He has dropped from school and leaves in isolation. It is arguable that this isolated nature of his resulted in his planning of committing a crime. In his personal philosophy, he uses others for his own ends because he views them as tools. Over and over, he rejects and pushes away those people that offer him assistance.
The manner in which crime and punishment have been addressed in the novel is not what readers would expect. This is because although the crime is committed in part one, the punishment is not presented immediately but way later. It is arguable that Raskolnikov’s feeling that he can transgress borders led to his crime. He goes to the old pawnbroker’s apartment and kills her together with her sister. This part presents the dehumanization portrayed in the novel.
Dostoevsky’s character is ultimately affected by his stepping over. After committing the crime, Raskolnikov is bedridden and lies ill with fever for some days. He then begins imaging that everyone suspects that he is the killer. At this point, he becomes convinced that he is not the superman in his theoretical construction, but a normal human and that he should come into terms with his guilt. He is then suspected of the crime by a detective and eventually confesses of the crime. He is ultimately imprisoned and accepts the responsibilities of his actions.
Paul Davis, Gary Harrison, David Johnson, and John Crawford. Western & World Literature. New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s. 2003. 1-200. print