, Research Paper
In both Nathaniel Hawthorne+s |Young Goodman BrownX and Joseph Conrad+s |Heart of Darkness,X the main character is presented with an evil version of himself while embarking on a journey. Throughout each story, both characters illustrate the potential for evil which co-exists in every man along with a potential for good. In the opening of |Young Goodman BrownX, Goodman Brown begins his journey, and is soon met by a traveler who was about fifty years old, apparently in the same rank of life as Goodman Brown, and bearing a considerable resemblance to him+ (595). By the narrator stating that the traveler bears a resemblance to Goodman Brown, he is comparing Goodman Brown with the traveler, and trying to show similarities between them. Goodman Brown tells the traveler that he intends to leave and go back to where he came, because his family is a race of honest men, and he does not intend to take this new path. He seems firm in this decision, but there are moments where Goodman Brown is tempted by the traveler to continue walking with him. The reader is unaware of the path Goodman Borwn is speaking about, but is soon informed that he is speaking about the pat of the devil. This is confirmed by Goody Cloyse, a pious woman who taught Goodman Brown his catechism. Upon seeing Goodman Brown’s companion, she screams “The devil!” and is answered by the traveler “Then Goody Cloyse knows her old friend?”(597.) When Goodman Brown observes many respected people of his town fleeing to this secret meeting in the woods he is startled, because he is aware of the good in them, but is now becoming aware of the evil which also resides inside of them. With this realization, it becomes apparent to him that he, too, could be lured by his evil side, which is what he is seeing in the traveler. When Goodman Brown realizes that his wife, too, has been seduced by the dark side, he makes haste to the clearing where the ceremony is taking place, and presents himself to the crowd. Goodman Brown is forced up on the altar next to Faith, and told by the traveler |Depending upon one another+s hearts, ye had still hoped that virtue were not all a dream! Now ye are undeceived!-Evil is the nature of mankind. Evil must be your only happiness. Welcome, again, my children, to the communion of your race!X (602). This declaration shocks Goodman Brown, for he thinks that if he continues with the ceremony, he will become his evil counterpart. Goodman Brown wills Faith to look towards heaven, and oppose the devil. The story ends with Goodman Brown finding himself alone in the forest, and for the rest of his life acting horribly towards his fellow townspeople. Whether Goodman Brown did or did not dream the whole journey is unimportant-he has seen the devil, if only in his mind, and feels guilty for almost being seduced by his dark side. He has also seen how easily his neighbors woulc be lured by there evil side, and because of this feels great resentment towards them. He becomes hostile and reticent, and the choice he was forced to make between good and evil, if only in his mind, unquestionably affected his life. In |Heart of Darkness,X however, the main character is given a different depiction of good and evil. Charlie Marlow, the narrator of the story within-the-story, spends a good amount of the story searching for Mr. Kurtz, a person with whom he feels an odd connection. When Marlow first meets with the manager of the Central Station, they begin to talk about Mr. Kurtz, the chief agent of the ivory company+s Inner Station. Marlow says the manager explains Kurtz as |the best agent he had, an exceptional man, of the greatest importance to the company,X (250). The manager then tells Marlow that he intends to wait three months before starting to repair the broken steamboat. This upsets Marlow, who storms out of the office. A few evenings later, he sees a grass shed full of trade goods on fire. While checking the situation out, he |heard the name of Kurtz pronounced, then the words, take advantage of this unfortunate accident.+ One of them was the manager,X (251). Having heard this, Marlow suspects that the manager purposely wrecked the steamboat in order to delay Marlow from taking supplies to Kurtz. This upsets him greatly, for he has started to feel an inexplicable bond towards Marlow, and resents the manager+s treatment of Kurtz.
After the black helmsman fell dead at Marlow+s feet, Marlow first thinks that Kurtz must be dead. He says of himself, |my sorrow had a startling extravagance of emotion, even such as I had noticed in the howling sorrow of there savages in the bush. I couldn+t have felt more of lonely desolation somehow, had I been robbed of a belief or had missed my destiny in life,X (269). Comparing his sorrow with the cry that emanated from the bush before the attack, Marlow is comparing himself with the savages, and is acknowledging his own secret wild instincts. The fact that Marlow may be unable to ever meet Kurtz is apparently of great disappointment to him. This is also compared to being robbed of one+s belief and missing one+s destiny, which are very serious matters. After coming to Kurtz’ cabin and finding Kurtz not there, Marlow follows a trail by the bank to try and find Kurtz. After catching up to him, they argue a bit, and Marlow begins to realize the bad which resides inside of Kurtz. He says of this revelation, “His soul was mad. Being alone in the wilderness, it had looked within itself, and by heavens! I tell you, it had gone mad. I had-for my sins, I suppose- to go through the ordeal of looking into it myself,” (284). At the very end of the story Marlow visits Kurtz+ Intended, who knows Kurtz+ good side, as opposed to his dark side. When she asks what Kurtz+ final words were, Marlow grapples with the truth and then chooses to lie to her, saying that the last word he spoke was her name. Marlow then tells his listeners, |It seemed to me that the heavens would fall for such a trifle. Would they have fallen, I wonder, if I had rendered Kurtz that justice which was his due? Hadn+t he said he only wanted justice? But I couldn+t. I could not tell her. It would have been too dark-too dark altogether…X (292). This shows that Marlow is choosing not to delve into his dark side, and has discovered a depth of compassion in himself that he never knew existed. Over the course of the story, Marlow develops a strong purpose to see and talk with Kurtz. It is Kurtz+ voice he wants to hear, and more and more he identifies with Kurtz. Like Young Goodman Brown finds his dark self in the devil, Marlow finds in Kurtz his own dark self. As each story became more and more complex, the main characters were both intrigued by their evil counterpart, and choose at the end to remain the |goodX man they were before the whole journey.