The Subjectivity of the Truth
This paper gives a review of the Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde by Moisés Kaufman, and The White Man’s Burden, by William Easterly with the aim of examining the traditional understanding of truth in moral terms. The novella Hearts of Darkness narrates about European imperialism in Africa and the subsequent exploitation of the natives. In the novel Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, there is bias in which homosexuality is perceived to be an immoral act depending on the offender.
In the Heart of Darkness, Conrad shows the high level of hypocrisy that imperialists and foreign mining companies used in colonial Africa. The book is based on the backdrop of a sailor’s life, Mr. Marlow, who is on a mission in Congo. The protagonist in the novel is Kurtz, who has been exploiting the local people. Marlow witnesses a lot of cruelty, torture, and slavery on his journey from the Outer Station to the Inner Station where Kurtz has operates. Interestingly, the Company that is being reviewed by Marlow claims that it does not torture or enslave locals. In truth, however, it is clear the Company is only interested in exploiting natives with the primary aim of enriching itself. The attitude of the white employees also shows the hypocrisy inherent in the business. In particular, these individuals claim that their work mainly aims at introducing modernization into Africa. There is some truth in their words, in that, their operations indeed expose Africans to various forms of civilizations such as speed boats, modern management practices, and advanced foreign cultures. However, their actions are not benevolent since they exploit the locals. In fact, the company even has slaves.
Finally, the manner that the Company treats Kurtz shows the subjectivity of the truth in the novel. The Company’s management is fully aware that Kurtz collects most of his ivory using forceful and invasive ways, which is against its policy. However, the managers continuously praise and have high regard for him despite these violations of the Company’s rules. In fact, one of the Company’s officials tells Marlow that Kurtz is the best manager since his station collects more ivory than all the other stations combined. According to Kurtz, the exploitations is necessary and mandatory for him to be successful. On the contrary both Marlow and “the Russian” view his actions as inhumane and unacceptable. Interestingly, although locals are the ones who suffer from Kurtz’s actions, they view them as necessary for his work. In fact, they have been so blinded by their reverence for White men that they are unable to realize they are being exploited. They even view him as a deity. In this regard, the Company knowingly ignores Kurtz actions since they enable it to amass more wealth. Similarly, locals assume Kurtz’s actions, even if they are wrong since they believe he is a god and has the right to do whatever he wants.
In the novel Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde by Moisés Kaufman, there is bias in which actions are perceived to be immoral based on the offender. The protagonist in the book is Wilde, an elderly man of forty years at the time of the trial, who is involved in same-sex relationship with Lord Alfred (“Douglas”), who is twenty-four years old. Wilde also has several similar relationships with many young men in Oxford. This relationship angers the latter’s father, Eighth Marquess of Queensberry, who decides to discredit Wilde when his son is on a visit to Algeria. On the fateful date, he leaves a card addressed “To Oscar Wilde posing Somdomite” at the Albermarle Club (Kaufman, 1998). At the time the book was written, homosexuality was illegal in England; therefore, Wilde’s image is tarnished.
Since the acquisitions against Wilde are true, the written copy is not libelous. However, there is subjectivity in the manner the information on Wilde’s sexuality is disclosed. In particular, Marquess reveals that Wilde is a gay at the time when his son is not in the country. Additionally, he does not include his son Douglas as one of the persons who is involved with Wilde, which makes the information biased.
The White Man’s Burden by William Easterly shows the futility of Western countries to eliminate poverty in developing countries and the apparent exploitation of developing countries in the pretense of offering donations. According to him, the policies and strategies implemented by these countries are usually not suitable for the environment of these countries. Furthermore, some of these methods are typically new and untested, which results in unnecessary wastage of resources. According to Easterly, poverty eradication plans initiated by Western countries have failed mainly because developing countries usually have corrupt leaders, who loot donor funds. Interestingly, aid agencies that channel donations often overlook these characters and deal with these individuals.
Easterly notes that the misuse of donor funds is further aggravated by the lack of accountability in aid delivery. In particular, no individual loses his/her job for poor performance. Further, there is usually a mismatch between what individuals in developing countries versus what donor countries offer. In most cases, these countries provide aid that also benefits their interests. Accordingly, there is a moral question on whether their aid programs are indeed genuine, or is aimed at emboldening their positions in these countries. According to Easterly, what is needed is an empowerment of “searchers” (individuals who inform donors the type of aid necessary for developing countries). It is questionable whether Western nations offer donations since that billions of dollars are invested in development projects that may not necessarily eliminate poverty. Further, donor countries are usually fully aware that these funds are channeled through corrupt individuals.
In conclusion, the Hearts of Darkness reveals how imperialists used manipulative tactics to exploit natives and expand their presence. Conrad describes how Kurtz took advantage of the locals since they were ignorant. Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde by Moisés Kaufman shows how information is purposefully twisted to defame one offender, Wilde, while ignoring Douglas, who is also gay. Finally, The White Man’s Burden, by William Easterly shows the ineffectiveness of aid funds in eliminating poverty since some of the donor countries are primarily interested in spreading their agendas and not helping the poor.
Conrad, J. (1990). Hearts of darkness. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications.
Easterly, W. (2006). The White man’s burden: Why the West’s efforts to aid the rest have done so much ill and so little good. New York, NY: Penguin Press HC.
Kaufman, M. (1998). Gross indecency: Three trials of Oscar Wilde. New York, NY: Vintage Publications.