14 December 2017
Heart of Darkness Midterm
In Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, we see that Kurtz has gone through a drastic development throughout the course of the short story. Kurtz enters Africa wanting to help westernize the culture but ends up coming out of it just as savage as the natives inhabiting it. His insanity can be recorded as three main stages in his development. The first stage analyzes his initial state of mind. The second stage begins to show how his way of thinking changes his perception and the third stage analyzes Kurtz’s final state of mind when he has finally lost all control.
The first stage of Kurtz character development entails Mr. Kurtz’s initial thoughts and reasons for going to Africa. Before Kurtz even stepped foot in the Congo, The International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs asked him to write a report in which he explained that the white people had so much progress that it would only be fair to help civilize primitive countries like Africa. Marlow summarizes the pamphlet, “‘By the simple exercise of of our will we can exert a power for good practicality unbounded’” (Conrad 45). We can see from this quote that Kurtz’s initial thoughts were sincere and he clearly wanted to help the natives of Africa to become a civilized body. As we keep moving through the story we begin to see how Kurtz’s outlook on undergoes a change. Kurtz has spent so much time there that he has adopted the way of thinking the natives did and in addition the natives saw him as their supreme leader and they became his followers. Marlow describes Kurtz, “He won’t be forgotten. Whatever he was, he was not common. He had the power to charm or frighten rudimentary souls of the pilgrims with bitter misgivings…” (Conrad 47). Clearly Kurtz must have had a great power over the people if they were scared to do him wrong. From those two quotes we can see that Kurtz is only at the beginning of his treacherous ride down to destruction. Africa clearly impacted Kurtz in a unpredictable way which is exactly what Achebe agrees on. He states, “Africa is a metaphysical battlefield devoid of all recognizable humanity, into which the wandering European enters at his peril” (Achebe 1790). It is obvious that Achebe thinks that going to Africa was the number one cause of Kurtz’s insanity.
In stage two of Kurtz’s development we see that the wilderness of the Congo started inhabiting the only part of his body that was still placid. He starts to become more possessive of all the ivory that he has found and thusly looses touch with his civilized nature. At this point the wilderness has little by little begun to take over Kurtz and every part of his being and he has grown an appetite for ivory that also ruled over the better side of him. Marlow visits the doctor before going on the trip to the Congo and he is told something that can be directly related to Kurtz. The doctor says, “‘I always ask leave, in...