Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

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How does humanism become an illusion in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness?

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Before we talk about humanism in conjunction with Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, it's helpful to define the term "humanism" itself. Humanism can refer to a variety of things, is generally a system of beliefs (a philosophical outlook, really), that celebrates humans as rational and ethical beings, values the pursuit of knowledge and the use of reason, and regards all humans as beings possessing inherent value and/or dignity. In short, humanism sees human beings as inherently good and valuable, and emphasizes human experience and knowledge as important.

Now, let's see how humanism becomes an illusion in Conrad's novel. To start, it's important to remember Kurtz began as something of a humanist, as he claimed his acts among the natives of the Congo had the potential to accomplish unparalleled good for all parties involved. In that case, it's apparent Kurtz initially valued the humanist pursuit of knowledge and believed in the inherent goodness of the...

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