Magda's Ethical Problem in Coetzee's In the Heart of the Country


  • R.P. Adhikary Tribhuvan University, Department of English, M M Campus, Nepalgunj, Nepal


This research article focuses on the ethical problems of Magda, the protagonist, and narrator of John Maxwell Coetzee's novel In the Heart of the Country. Here Magda, a white spinster, has been presented as an immoral and hypocritical woman. In the beginning, she hates the immoral activities of her father and wants to struggle with him for the sake of her own identity. Later, she is involved in an illegal sexual relationship with her black servant, Hendrik. She becomes ready to destroy the lives of black servants, Hendrik and his wife Anna because of her racial prejudice and hypocrisy. Magda forgets her ethical values and widens the gap in her relationship with others. By applying qualitative research, the researcher had taken the novel In the Heart of the Country as a primary text and analyzed it from the perspectives of ethical criticism, basically the ethical theories of Emmanuel Levinas. This research demonstrates how ethics and morality are required for a correct understanding of Coetzee’s‘In the Heart of the Country’. In it, ethics and morality are essential to solve the mystery of the self and others. The self-and-other conundrum will remain difficult unless we assign ethics and morals to this story. Magda's egotism is revealed in her attitude toward others and herself. She's worried about the horror that her involvement in apartheid's white criminality, as well as her seduction of her servant, has instilled in her. From the study, the researcher concluded that Magda is responsible for her downfall and falls in disgrace because of her hubris. It is due to the fact that racism causes an ethical crisis in South African society.

KEYWORDS: apartheid, ethical issue, hypocrisy, prejudice, racism