Marlow's lies

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Marlow’s Dark Lie In the novel, Heart of Darkness, written by Joseph Conrad, Marlow lies to Kurtz’s fiancée at the end of the story when she asks him to repeat his last words to which he responds that his last word was her name. Kurtz’s fiancée, also referred to as the Intended, was comforted by his response and wept in triumph; however, she believed in an illusion because she never knew what Kurtz became in Africa. The author uses character analysis, language, and dark imagery to convey Marlow’s pity for a single glint of light in the Intended’s house of sorrow by lying to her about Kurtz’s last words before passing away. Conrad finishes off the story by bluntly contradicting Marlow’s personality to demonstrate the two extremes of human nature. While aboard the Nellie, Marlow tells his audience that he hates lies because they “appal” him (Conrad 36). However, at the end of the novel, Marlow accepts falsehood as salvation when he lies to the Intended about Kurtz’s last words because the truth would have broken her heart. Marlow judges the situation and realizes that a lie is better to give the desperate Intended than the truth. Moreover, Marlow justifies his lie by mentioning that it “would have been too dark—too dark altogether” to tell the Intended the true nature of Kurtz’s death (Conrad 101). This proves that Marlow struggled in the realm of human values because he preferred that fate would have permitted him to tell the truth because he hates lies. His sympathy for the Intended blinds him and allows his sentiments to obscure his dedication to the truth. Conrad’s characterization of Marlow presents the two extremes that can exist within the human kind and shows that both of these are reality after all. Conrad uses dark ima... ... middle of paper ... .... This shows that when Marlow gives the Intended Kurtz’s papers he establishes some of the burden he experienced with Kurtz in Africa by lying to her. Marlow’s strategy to justify himself is to render Kurtz justice by lying to the Intended, whose soul is pure as a crystal. At the beginning of the story Marlow says that lies have a taint of death, but at the end of the story he says the opposite concerning his lie. All in all, Conrad portrays Marlow’s character in a contradicting way to appease the Intended’s desire to keep Kurtz’s eloquence alive by lying to her about what he had really said. Conrad uses Marlow’s character analysis, language, and dark imagery to justify the dark lie that was said to the Intended. Works Cited Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness and The Secret Agent. 1st New York Public Library collector’s ed. New York: Doubleday, 1997. 3-102. Print
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