Of Darkness By Conrad

In the novella Heart if Darkness by Joseph Conrad Marlow and Kurtz undergo
similar journeys through the most evil and dark regions of their psyche;
however, Marlow is able to realize the darkness inside him and retain his soul
before he reverts to a savage animal-like Kurtz has. Marlow’s disillusionment
begins as he arrives on the shore of Africa. When he first arrives on the coast
of Africa he sees a large warship bombarding the overgrown forest that has
encroached on the beach. This firing is random and is only pointless
destruction. He sees the natives, and the people view them as their enemies.

Marlow thinks of them as enemies at first, however when he sees them up close he
thinks they are nothing more than "black shadows of disease and
starvation." Marlow sees the natives clinging to the shade which seems
cooler and peaceful but when he enters the shade he realizes it is actually
"a gloomy circle of some inferno." Marlow identifies with Kurtz
finding many of the same qualities that Kurtz has in himself. Marlow idolizes

Kurtz. Marlow sees a freeness and rebellious quality he wishes he could possess.

Marlow sees that Kurtz has embraced his savage side when he goes and travels
with the native savages. Marlow shows he has the savage qualities as well when
he follows Kurtz into the forest, but not to the extreme Kurtz has. Marlow also
shows his savageness when he is first in Africa when he and his men are carrying
a dead man. One of his men expects to see Marlow kill someone, this man sees
that Marlow has the potential to kill a man. Marlow realizes that Kurtz is a
savage by his actions and behavior. First Marlow is horrified by the human heads
on the poles outside his house. Marlow is also outraged and upset when Kurtz
threatened to kill him if he did not give him the ivory. Kurtz is willing to
kill over a small amount of ivory. Kurtz’s viciousness is shown when he
threatens him; because Kurtz does not think, but relies on gut instinct and his
survival skills which have allowed him to survive for this time. Marlow tries to
distance himself from Kurtz in his mind. Marlow tries to make himself believe
that he is not like Kurtz and he will not and can not do the things Kurtz does.

When he follows Kurtz he stays to the edge of the woods not venturing any
further. This represents Marlow’s unwillingness to participate in Kurtz’s
actions and atrocities. Marlow realizes that the Congo reveals the evil and
savagery in an individual. Marlow says, "I seemed to see Kurtz for the
first time...the lone white man turning his back suddenly on the headquarters,
on relief, on thoughts of home, towards his empty and desolate station."

This quote reveals that Kurtz has turned his back on humanity and society. The
brickmaker is jealous of Kurtz’s position. When Marlow mentions of Kurtz’s
possible advancement to manager the brickmaker suddenly blows out the candle and
stormed outside. Marlow talks with the doctor before his departure to Africa.

Foreshadowing is prevalent in this section where the doctor inquires if there is
a history madness in his family and how people change when they have ventured
into the jungle. The manager said that Kurtz’s methods had ruined the
district, even though Kurtz is the most productive person consistently exporting
ivory. The manager’s complaint shows his jealousy of Kurtz. Marlow and Kurtz
have similar paths in life, but they each choose a different path. Marlow sees
the progression of the human mind in different people at different times. The
most extreme savageness is Kurtz, while himself is the beginning of the darkness
which lurks in the hearts of all men.

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