Essay That Describes The "Human Tendencies Toward Evil" Found In Heart Of Darkness

1109 words - 5 pages

In the classic novel, Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad takes us on a journey into the soul of man. When the character of Marlow travels into the Congo of Africa to find Kurtz, he realizes that he is in a place where the rules of society no longer constrain human nature, and the frightening truths about human beings can be observed first hand.Marlow discovers that human nature can experience its' dark side. This can be seen through the observation of Kurtz. He also discovers that human nature can be altered, subject to the constraints placed on it by the environment, and that it is able to be either good or evil. The temptation of evil, existing especially in an environment lacking any rul ...view middle of the document...

"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"(146).The conflict between good and evil is raging in Kurtz's soul at this time, as he struggles between the greatness that he had possessed, and the emptiness of a soul tempted by evil. When first talking to Marlow, Kurtz tells him that he was "on the threshold of great things" (143). As they travel through the wilderness to leave the station that destroyed Kurtz, Marlow comments, "Oh he struggled! He struggled! The wastes of his weary brain were haunted by shadowy images now -- images of wealth and fame revolving obsequiously round his inextinguishable gift of noble and lofty expression" (146). Even as he waits to die, Kurtz's greatness refused to completely submit as it fights the powerful force of evil that has consumed his soul. Before he dies, Marlow observes on Kurtz's face "the expression of somber pride, of ruthless power, of craven terror"(147). All of human nature, evoked from the lack of limitations he found in the wilderness, fought within him until the end - when he sums up his struggles and observations of human nature with one phrase: "The horror! The horror!" Marlow admires Kurtz for these words, because Kurtz had learned and reached a conclusion on human nature in his last moment of life, and, as Marlow says, "the most you can learn from it is some knowledge of yourself...." (148). Marlow also calls these words "a moral victory" because they show that he had struggled to the end. Hence, Kurtz has not simply resigned to a state between good and evil, but he has been able to judge everything that he had experienced, throwing out one phrase at the ...


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