Tha Gang of Virtue in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness
“You are of the new gang–the gang of virtue” (Conrad, 1898). This is part of the conversation between the brick maker and Marlow. This is just after Marlow has heard of the name of Mr. Kurtz and what his mission is supposed to be. Somehow, Marlow finds himself in the quarters of the brick maker. The brick maker then, tells Marlow the position of Kurtz in the company, and Kurtz’s qualities which qualify him to be manager in two years time.
Finally, the brick maker tells Marlow that he is now part of the “gang of virtue.”
The Gang of Virtue
In the story, Kurtz seems to be the leader or the pioneer of the “gang of virtue.” And when Marlow associated himself with Kurtz and sympathized with his ideals he became part of that gang. Being part of the gang of virtue means that the member supports colonization of the natives of Africa.
It is the Company’s mission in the first place, it’s just that making profit out of the ivory trade overshadowed the intent of the Company. Marlow is in favor of civilizing the natives, just as Kurtz is. Marlow, Kurtz, and the Russian trader forms this group, but with the Russian, somewhat mad, and Kurtz dead. Marlow becomes the last member of the gang of virtue. Marlow even commends the British for their vast colonization campaign as shown by the map that he saw in Belgium. Marlow officially became part of the gang when he defended Kurtz after the Manager made his comments about Kurtz and his “unsound” methods. By siding with Kurtz, Marlow just picks the side that he thinks that is less evil. He can either join the rest of the company with their cruelty or join Kurtz and his “unsound” methods.
The “gang of virtue” may also be called as the “unsound” group, a group that advocates colonization of the natives. The defining moment in the story is when Marlow associates himself with this gang that is pioneered by Kurtz.
Conrad, J. (1898). Heart of Darkness and Selected Short Fiction. New York. Barnes and
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