Fantasy as Morality: Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’ and Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter

  • T. E. Apter


In the great moral traditional of the novel, intellectual growth involves the shift and extension of aspects and balances. Knowledge newly gained is not knowledge of a new type but of a new arrangement. Emphases change, old interests give way to new, frequently more satisfying ones, accepted generalisations or principles are either widened or narrowed, in accord with sympathy and experience. Alternatively, new facts may be brought to light, forcing reappraisals of character and motive. The function of vividness, in relation to the moral purpose of novels within this tradition, is to turn the reader into a spectator: the reader observes character, motives, aims and situations alongside the author, and the new aspects revealed within the novel, or the more sensitive balancing suggested, form part of a general intellectual skill.


Moral Vision Moral Reality External Reality Moral Language Moral Blindness 
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  1. 1.
    F.R. Leavis, The Great Tradition (Harmondsworth: Peregrine, 1962), pp. 198–9.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Joseph Conrad, ‘Heart of Darkness’ (New York: Bantam, 1971), pp. 128–31.Google Scholar
  3. 12.
    Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter (New York: New American Library, 1959), pp. 44–5.Google Scholar
  4. 19.
    E.g., D.H. Lawrence, Studies in Classic American Literature (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1971).Google Scholar

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© T. E. Apter 1982

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  • T. E. Apter

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