The turn of the 20th century conveyed revolution in psychological, social, and philosophical thought. It was time for something neoteric. It was time to break out of the mundane tradition. This time of revolution conceded men, such as Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud, to rise to fame with their radical and cutting edge theories. Also, women were exasperated of their modeled roles in society. They sought to be independent, they longed to have the ability to vote, and most of all, they wanted legal equality. This time period also brought the renewal of European expansion. With new motivations, such as economic motivations, social imperialism, and the new theories of racial ...view middle of the document...
The space in between the front lines of the defenders and the attackers was known as "No Man’s Land". ("Trench Warfare") Thousands of battle hardened soldiers would put their lives on the line by running into this "no man's land", just to win a few feet in the battle of the frontline. This led to hundreds of thousands of casualties just to gain two or three feet on the battlefield.
There is no better picture of this theory of irrational creatures than in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, which was published in 1902. ("Heart of Darkness") This novella is the story of a man, Marlow, who gathers a crew of sailors to journey down to the Congo, in British controlled Africa. As Marlow and his men begin the adventure down the river, they are soon given a mission to capture Mr. Kurtz, the best ivory extractor in all of Africa. The problem is, Kurtz has gone crazy, and his methods have gone tribal. The corporation believes he has gone insane. It's not until Marlow finally gets to Kurtz through a very trying journey, that he realizes Kurtz's actions are like the rest of ours, except Kurtz was tired of hiding behind civilization. Marlow realizes that we are all evil and we are all corrupt, but we attempt to hide it with civilization.
"The horror, the horror" (Conrad) are Kurtz last words he utters to Marlow before he dies. Kurtz realizes the life of evil he has lived, the inhuman acts he committed, and the regrets he has. The words ring true for society in the real world, expressed by Freud. We are inconsistent with rationality. ("irrational") When Marlow returns home, he must inform Kurtz's intended of his death. When she asks what the last thing Kurtz said was, Marlow lied to her, and said that Kurtz uttered her name with his dying breath. Why did Marlow lie? Was it to protect Kurtz's intended? Was it to keep her in the innocent, civilized world she was living in? A world far from the "heart of darkness" that Marlow and Kurtz were a part of.
Along with the revolution in psychology and the beliefs that humans are irrational creatures, Europe was starting to part ties with religion. Society was becoming more secular and it was becoming evident that a philosophical revolution was at hand. New theories dealing with humans and how we came into existence were becoming more popular with Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species.("Charles Darwin") This book challenged creation by a divine being. Instead, we have evolved from simple celled beings by a process called natural selection.
As if this theory of evolution didn't challenge the church and religion enough, an excerpt from German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche sure did finish the job.:
"God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What...