From Carlyle’s Hero to Conrad’s Depraved

Eduardo Valls Oyarzun

From Carlyle’s Hero to Conrad’s Depraved

Číslo: 1/2018
Periodikum: Prague Journal of English Studies

Klíčová slova: Hero; morbidity; responsibility; Joseph Conrad;  omas Carlyle; Friedrich Nietzsche; Victorian critique

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Anotace:  e author of this paper lays out a system of hermeneutics based on the idea of morbidity

aimed at checking the commitment (or the lack thereof) of individual subjects to
Victorian ethics.  e system stems from  omas Carlyle’s political agenda based
on his concept of “hero worship”.  e system is then deployed in order to probe into
the purported morbidity of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. According to the
author of this paper, the character of Marlow represents a curious mixture of the
heroic archetype proposed by Carlyle, combined with new critical standpoints from
other philosophical programmes (specifi cally Nietzsche’s) proposed at the end of the
nineteenth century. Firstly, the author of this paper tackles the prototype of the hero
(a sort of medium between reality and Divine Truth)  omas Carlyle posited in his
On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History (1841).  e author of this
paper then describes how Marlow shares some of the hero’s features (most notably social
responsibility and work ethic), but fails to embody the main trait of Carlyle’s “great
men”, namely, their ability to recognize Divine Truth. Indeed, rather than asserting
the existence of the Truth, Marlow’s narrative reveals the existence of multiple truths,
thus creating a sort of politically morbid revision of Carlyle’s formula.