In Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, Marlow chooses a brighter path than his counterpart in Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now, Capt. Willard. The two share in the duty of searching for and discovering Kurtz, as well as taking care of his memory, but their beliefs before encountering him place the characters at opposing ends of a theme. These opposing ends are light and dark, representing good and evil.
In the opening pages of Heart of Darkness, Marlow begins telling a tale of himself as nothing more than a sailor, who had a taste for adventure and saw the navigation of a river in such a distant and mysterious place as the Congo as a chance to find it. Capt. Willard however, had "prayed for a mission, and for [his] sins they gave [him] one"(AP). Marlow's disposition at the beginning of this journey is that of a bored young man, trying to fill his time: a noble and societally acceptable existence. Capt. Willard is beyond the bounds of normal society as he begins narrating Apocalypse Now from his hotel room in Saigon. He explains: "When I was here [at the war] I wanted to be there [back home]. When I was there all I could think of was getting back into the jungle"(AP). Willard is outside of society but is hanging on slightly by his connection to the Army. This connection is a weak one, because of the nature of war and the fact that in war the laws of normal society are not applicable. Kurtz though, has taken the final step by breaking away from the army; "he broke from them, and then he broke from himself. I'd never seen a man so broken up and ripped apart"(AP). Willard doesn't even know if he will oppose Kurtz when he meets him, because he sees Kurtz in himself...
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