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Marlow? s Journey into Kurtz? In Joseph Conrad? s novel, Heart of Darkness, we are shown man insights into the darkness, that is the Congo. His characters Marlow and Kurtz undergo similar journeys through the evil and dark regions of their minds. However, Marlow is able to realize the darkness inside of him and retain his sanity before he reverts to a savage animal, like Kurtz.
Marlow? s disillusionment begins as early as when he comes onto the shores of Africa, what you expect is almost never what you get. Marlow travels into the Congo and not only meets Kurtz, but also becomes a reflection of him as he undergoes numerous changes in mind and body. As Marlow starts his journey on the Nellie, he realizes the change of atmosphere and the change inside the people.
He sees the savages, the enemies or at least the people he had one time believed were the enemies right there standing before him and all around him. He later realizes that these people he had one time viewed as savage and unjust are merely? black shadows of disease and starvation? (24). Marlow sees the natives clinging to the shade as it seems safe and peaceful, but as he enters the shade he realizes it is? a gloomy circle of some inferno? (26). Marlow experiences how easy it is to be totally consumed by the true heart of this inferno, this darkness.
The Inner Station is where Marlow finds Kurtz as well as himself. As Marlow meets Kurtz, he identifies with him and finds many of the same qualities in himself. He idolizes Kurtz, he sees a free and rebellious quality that he wishes he could possess. Marlow sees that Kurtz has embraced his savage side when he travels with the savages into the forest.
Marlow tries to distance himself from Kurtz in his mind. He 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 at the edge of the woods, not venturing any further. This represents Marlow? s unwillingness to participate in Kurtz? s actions, realizing 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, or relief, on the thoughts of home, and towards his empty and desolate station? (97) showing that Kurtz has turned away from everything that holds one together, humanity as well as society. Marlow does not like to lie, he has strong beliefs about lying yet he find ways to justify himself to tell them.
He lies to The Intended so that the image of her dead fiance would not be destroyed. She has waited at least two years for her lover to return from Africa, and now he is dead. During this time she has built his image up in her mind she says, ? it was impossible to know him and not to admire him? (119) which is blinding her from seeing the truth or believing it. To her Kurtz is a man to be admired. She feels it would be " impossible not to love him" (120).
She was proud to have been engaged to Kurtz, and would be shocked to learn of the things he had done. Marlow had to decide if he should tell her the truth about Kurtz and cause her even greater grief, or let her go on believing that he was a good man. This is an extraordinary circumstance, and thus one in which Marlow felt he could justify himself to lie. The significance of this lie is that it would serve no purpose to tell the truth, so Marlow does not. Kurtz is dead and to tell the truth would only hurt an innocent woman.
She had no idea that her fiance had an evil heart. She thought that he has loved and admired by everyone who knew him. If she learned of the things he had done, it would destroy her. Marlow showed his good side by not telling her the truth about Kurtz. This shows that even though Marlow has met a man with a Heart of Darkness, and that even after facing his own darkness, he has come out of the jungle unchanged, for the most part. He is still a good human being with feelings and a sense of right and wrong.
Marlow never actually vocalized a lie. He simply allowed others to continue to believe an untruth. Heart of Darkness is a record of things seen and done, as a man journeys through the Congo and realizes the changes one can undergo when tempted by the darkness. There were so many actual events and facts in the story it made it more an enormity than entertaining. His confrontations as a man are both dangerous and enlightening.
Perhaps mans inhumanity to man is his greatest sin. And since the story closes with a lie, maybe Conrad was discovering and analyzing the two aspects of a lie, a lie which does no harm, a white lie or a lie which does nothing to serve any good or help, a black lie. Both, of which, are present in every human soul.
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