A Comparison of the Power of Will in Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now

Powerful Essays
The Power of Will in Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now

The story of Heart of Darkness was adapted to film after many failed attempts. (Hearts of Darkness, Coppala E.). Finally, director Francis Coppala collaborated with his friend John Milius on writing a screen play for Conrad's masterpiece. The two came up with Apocalypse Now, utilizing a more modern setting than the original story which was based in imperialistic Europe. The modern setting was that of the Vietnam war. Apocalypse Now focuses on the insanity of a decorated military colonial. "Kurtz intended to enlighten the natives, but instead he circums to the primal temptations of the jungle and goes insane." (Hearts of Darkness, Coppala E.)

The fiction of Joseph Conrad, as seen in Heart of Darkness, represents the teachings of the German philosopher and idealist Arthur Schopenhauer. Schopenhauer thought of the world as having two distinct entities, both of which are parts of the whole [world]. First, there is the world of representation or appearance. This is the phenomenal world which is made of tangible objects. For Schopenhauer the second entity being the thing-in-itself is will, and is the cause of everything. {Frost}. "The phenomenal world [world of representation] is merely an image; it mirrors the will, the real world." (Sahakian). Schopenhauer, being of pessimistic views, argued will to be a force that both "creates all and destroys all in its insatiable demand for " 'More!' [More of what it does not know it only knows that it wants more.]" (Palmer). All human actions are a result of will. As seen through the character of Kurtz, the world of will manifestates suffering, evil, and insanity into the world of perception.

There are m...

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..., Francis Copala, and John

Milius. Paramount, 1989.

Palmer, Donald. Looking at Philosophy; The Unbearable Heaviness of Philosophy

Made Lighter. 1988. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing Company, 1994.

Sahakian William S. History of Philosophy. New York, Barnes and Noble Books,


Schopenhauer, Arthur. Essays and Aphorisms. Trans. R. J. Hollingdale. New York, Penguin Books, 1970.

Works Consulted:

Boyle, Ted E. Symbolism and Meaning in the Fiction of Joseph Conrad. 1965. ` Folcroft, PA; The Folcroft Press, 1969.

Johnson, Bruce. Conrad?s Models of Mind. Minneapolis: Minnesota UP, 1971.

Murfin, Ross C. Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness: A Case Study in Contemporary Criticism. New York: St. Martin?s Press, 1989.

Wollaeger, Mark A. Joseph Conrad and the Fictions of Skepticism. Stanford, CA; Stanford UP, 1990.
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