Essay PreviewMore ↓
In Heart of Darkness it is the white invaders for instance, who are,
almost without exception, embodiments of blindness, selfishness, and
cruelty; and even in the cognitive domain, where such positive
phrases as "to enlighten," for instance, are conventionally opposed
to negative ones such as "to be in the dark," the traditional
expectations are reversed. In Kurtz's painting, as we have seen,
"the effect of the torch light on the face was sinister" (Watt 332).
Ian Watt, author of "Impressionism and Symbolism in Heart of Darkness,"
discusses about the destruction set upon the Congo by Europeans. The
destruction set upon the Congo by Europeans led to the cry of Kurtz's last
words, "The horror! The horror!" The horror in Heart of Darkness has been
critiqued to represent different aspects of situations in the book. However,
Kurtz's last words "The horror! The horror!" refer, to me, to magnify only
three major aspects. The horror magnifies Kurtz not being able to restrain
himself, the colonizers' greed, and Europe's darkness.
Kurtz comes to the Congo with noble intentions. He thought that each
ivory station should stand like a beacon light, offering a better way of life
to the natives. He was considered to be a "universal genius": he was an orator,
writer, poet, musician, artist, politician, ivory producer, and chief agent of
the ivory company's Inner Station. yet, he was also a "hollow man," a man
without basic integrity or any sense of social responsibility. "Kurtz issues
the feeble cry, 'The horror! The horror!' and the man of vision, of poetry, the
'emissary of pity, and science, and progress' is gone. The jungle closes'
round" (Labrasca 290). Kurtz being cut off from civilization reveals his dark
side. Once he entered within his "heart of darkness" he was shielded from the
light. Kurtz turned into a thief, murderer, raider, persecutor, and to climax
all of his other shady practices, he allows himself to be worshipped as a god.
E. N. Dorall, author of "Conrad and Coppola: Different Centres of Darkness,"
explains Kurtz's loss of his identity.
Daring to face the consequences of his nature, he loses his identity;
How to Cite this Page
"Pure Horror in Heart of Darkness." 123HelpMe.com. 17 Jul 2018
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Symbols and Symbolism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness Symbolism has long been a tool of the storyteller, finding its origins in the folklore of our earliest civilizations. In more recent years, however, symbolism has taken on a new role, forming the skeleton upon which the storyteller builds the tales of his or hers thoughts and adventures. Knowing the power of this element, Joseph Conrad uses symbols to help the reader explore dark interiors of men. The symbols become a vehicle that carry the audience from stop to stop, the ride becoming an evaluation of the darkness contained inside the hearts of mankind.... [tags: Heart Darkness essays]
777 words (2.2 pages)
- "Restraint. I would have just as soon expected restraint from a hyena prowling amongst the corpses of a battle," comments Marlow as he questions why the hungry cannibals aboard his steamer hadn't gone for the white crew members (Conrad 43). "The glimpse of the steamboat . . . filled those savages with unrestrained grief," Marlow explains after recalling the cries of the natives seeing the steamer amidst a brief fog lift (Conrad 44). "Poor fool. He had no restraint, no restraint . . .a tree swayed by the wind," speaks Marlow of a slain helmsman amidst an attack by tribal savages (Conrad 52).... [tags: Heart Darkness essays]
3967 words (11.3 pages)
- The Spiritual Voyages of Heart of Darkness Heart of Darkness describes an outward journey to the heart of Africa that parallels an inward journey to the heart and depths of man's being. Two spiritual voyages are made by Kurtz and Marlow. Kurtz was a great man who discovered a flaw in himself while working in Africa. He lacked "restraint" to control the emerging dark side which he found within himself. He plumbs the depths of man's dark side -a side which civilization and culture represses - but is swallowed up, by these forces which eventually overcome him in the isolation of darkest Africa.... [tags: Heart Darkness essays]
759 words (2.2 pages)
- Ambiguities Explored in Heart of Darkness Literature is never interpreted in exactly the same way by two different readers. A prime example of a work of literature that is very ambiguous is Joseph Conrad's, "Heart of Darkness". The Ambiguities that exist in this book are Marlow's relationship to colonialism, Marlow's changing feelings toward Kurtz, and Marlow's lie to the Intended at the end of the story. One interpretation of Marlow's relationship to colonialism is that he does not support it.... [tags: Heart Darkness essays]
1464 words (4.2 pages)
- In the early 1900s, imperialism was one of the last things worrying people in America. In Africa, however, imperialism was a monumental concern. Scarcely more than a hundred years ago (and continuing for over fifty years), millions of Africans were being enslaved in their home country, which was being taking over by Europeans. Forced to work until they died of exhaustion and malnutrition, these slaves lived a life of agony. This time of injustice and horror is vividly captured in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, where the darkness and pure evil of humanity comes to life.... [tags: America, Africa, Europeans, World History]
1042 words (3 pages)
- King Leopold II of Belgium is known for being one of the most brutal racists in history. His inhumane treatment of Africans in the Congo was revealed in photographs that surfaced and that were taken to emphasize his cruel behavior over the Africans in the Congo. His motive for this inhumanity was pure greed. Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, although does not embody the vicious behavior of King Leopold II, contributes to the racism of that period in other ways. Because of this, the novel can be interpreted in different ways from a racism standpoint.... [tags: Literary Analysis, Joseph Conrad]
2028 words (5.8 pages)
- Heart of Darkness and London were both written by writers who wanted to emphasize individuality over collective institutions. Joseph Conrad and William Blake, respectively, while separated by many years in their writings, both manifest the damage of a “civilization” where humans live within bounds. The authors argue that bounds, or principles, in civilization result in a society driven only by the thought of success. Both writers lived in a time during which their societies were undergoing rapid change.... [tags: Writing Comparisons, ]
1043 words (3 pages)
- Throughout its entirety, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness utilizes many contrasts and paradoxes in an attempt to teach readers about the complexities of both human nature and the world. Some are more easily distinguishable, such as the comparison between civilized and uncivilized people, and some are more difficult to identify, like the usage of vagueness and clarity to contrast each other. One of the most prominent inversions contradicts the typical views of light and dark. While typically light is imagined to expose the truth and darkness to conceal it, Conrad creates a paradox in which darkness displays the truth and light blinds us from it.... [tags: the sky around the boat, marlow]
1126 words (3.2 pages)
- Parallels Between Conrad's Heart of Darkness and Freud's Totem and Taboo The force of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness lies in the strange relationship between Marlow and Kurtz, and the responses of Marlow to what Kurtz has evoked in him. Ultimately, the novel functions as a subjective account of one man's experiences with what he believes to be a more essential and more pure state of man. That much of the novel consists of Marlow's attempts to understand, define, and redefine his opinion of Kurtz points to this man's importance in Marlow's views of the primitive state of humanity. Kurtz functions as a European who has crossed the line from European civilization to African barba... [tags: Comparison Compare Contrast Essays]
1936 words (5.5 pages)
- Theme of Horror in the Sleepy Hollow The film Sleepy Hollow is a fantasy/gothic horror film; the rating 15 tells us it probably has some gore in it. As we watch the film, some parts could also be described as thriller. The director Tim Burton is known for his love of Hammer horror films and before starting work on this film he encouraged his team to watch Hammer horror films like "Black Sunday" and "The Fearless Vampire Killers", as this was the effect he wanted to put across in Sleepy Hollow.... [tags: Papers]
2182 words (6.2 pages)
unable to be totally beast and never able to be fully human, he
alternates between trying to return to the jungle and recalling in
grotesque terms his former idealism. Kurtz discovered, A voice!
A voice! It rang deep to the very last. It survived his strength
to hide in the magnificent folds of eloquence the barren darkness of
his heart.... But both the diabolic love and the unearthly hate of
the mysteries it had penetrated fought for the possession of that
soul satiated with primitive emotions, avid of lying, fame, of sham
distinction, of all the appearances of success and power. Inevitably
Kurtz collapses, his last words epitomizing his experience,
The horror! The horror! (Dorall 306).
The horror to Kurtz is about self realization; about the mistakes he committed
while in Africa.
The colonizers' cruelty towards the natives and their lust for ivory
also is spotlighted in Kurtz's horror. The white men who came to the Congo
professing to bring progress and light to "darkest Africa" have themselves been
deprived of the sanctions of their European social orders. The supposed
purpose of the colonizers' traveling into Africa was to civilize the natives.
Instead the Europeans took the natives' land away from them by force. They
burned their towns, stole their property, and enslaved them. "Enveloping the
horror of Kurtz is the Congo Free State of Leopold II, totally corrupt though
to all appearances established to last for a long time" (Dorall 309). The
conditions described in Heart of Darkness reflect the horror of Kurtz's words:
the chain gangs, the grove of death, the payment in brass rods, the cannibalism
and the human skulls on the fence posts.
Africans bound with thongs that contracted in the rain and cut to
the bone, had their swollen hands beaten with rifle butts until they
fell off. Chained slaves were forced to drink the white man's
defecation, hands and feet were chopped off for their rings, men
were lined up behind each other and shot with one cartridge,
wounded prisoners were eaten by maggots till they died and were then
thrown to starving dogs or devoured by cannibal tribes (Meyers 100).
The colonizers enslaved the natives to do their biding; the cruelty practiced on
the black workers were of the white man's mad and greedy rush for ivory. "The
unredeemable horror in the tale is the duplicity, cruelty, and venality of
Europeans officialdom" (Levenson 401).
Civilization is only preserved by maintaining illusions. Juliet
Mclauchlan, author of "The Value and Significance of Heart of Darkness," stated
that every colonizer in Africa is to blame for the horror which took place
Kurtz's moral judgment applies supremely to his own soul, but his
final insight is all encompassing; looking upon humanity in full
awareness of his own degradation, he projects his debasement, failure,
and hatred universally. Realizing that any human soul may be
fascinated, held irresistible, by what it rightly hates, his stare is
"wide enough to embrace the whole universe," wide and immense....
embracing, condemning, loathing all the universe (Mclauchlan 384).
The darkness of Africa collides with the evils of Europe upon Kurtz's last words.
Kurtz realized that all he had been taught to believe in, to operate from, was
a mass of horror and greed standardized by the colonizers. As you recall in
Conrad's Heart of Darkness, Kurtz painted a painting releasing his knowledge of
the horror and what is to come. A painting of a blindfolded woman carrying a
lighted torch was discussed in the book. The background was dark, and the
effect of the torch light on her face was sinister. The oil painting suggests
the blind and stupid ivory company, fraudulently letting people believe that
besides the ivory they were taking out of the jungle, they were, at the same
time, bringing light and progress to the jungle.
Kurtz, stripped away of his culture by the greed of other Europeans,
stands both literally and figuratively naked. He has lost all restraint in
himself and has lived off the land like an animal. He has been exposed to
desire, yet cannot comprehend it. His horror tells us his mistakes and that of
Europe's. His mistakes of greed for ivory, his mistakes of lust for a mistress
and his mistakes of assault on other villages, were all established when he was
cut off from civilization. When Conrad wrote what Kurtz's last words were to be,
he did not exaggerate or invent the horrors that provided the political and
humanitarian basis for his attack on colonialism.
Conrad's Kurtz mouths his last words, "The horror! The horror!" as a
message to himself and, through Marlow, to the world. However, he did not
really explain the meaning of his words to Marlow before his exit. Through
Marlow's summary and moral reactions, we come to realize the possibilities of
the meaning rather than a definite meaning. "The message means more to Marlow
and the readers than it does to Kurtz," says William M. Hagen, in "Heart of
Darkness and the Process of Apocalypse Now." "The horror" to Kurtz became the
nightmare between Europe and Africa. To Marlow, Kurtz's last words came
through what he saw and experienced along the way into the Inner Station. To
me, Kurtz's horror shadows every human, who has some form of darkness deep
within their heart, waiting to be unleashed. "The horror that has been
perpetrated, the horror that descends as judgment, either in this pitiless and
empty death or in whatever domination there could be to come" (Stewart 366).
Once the horror was unleashed, there was no way of again restraining it.
Dorall, E. N. [Conrad and Coppola: Different Centres of Darkness.] Heart of
Darkness. By Joseph Conrad 3rd ed. Ed. Robert Kimbrough. New York: Norton
Critical 1988. 306, 309.
LaBrasca, Robert. [Two Visions of "The Horror!".] Heart of Darkness. By
Joseph Conrad 3rd ed. Ed. Robert Kimbrough. New York: Norton Critical 1988.
Levenson, Michael. [The Value of Facts in the Heart of Darkness.] Heart of
Darkness. By Joseph Conrad 3rd ed. Ed. Robert Kimbrough. New York: Norton
Critical 1988. 401.
McLauchlan, Juliet. [The "Value" and "significance" of Heart of Darkness.]
Heart of Darkness. By Joseph Conrad 3rd ed. Ed. Robert Kimbrough. New York:
Norton Critical 1988. 384.
Meyers, Jeffrey. Joseph Conrad. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1991.
Stewart, Garrett. [Lying as Dying in Heart of Darkness.] Heart of Darkness.
By Joseph Conrad 3rd ed. Ed. Robert Kimbrough. New York: Norton Critical
Watt, Ian. [Impressionism and Symbolism in Heart of Darkness.] Heart of
Darkness. By Joseph Conrad 3rd ed. Ed. Robert Kimbrough. New York: Norton
Critical 1988. 332.