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Kurtz: A Mystery In Disguise "Heart Of Darkness" By Joseph Conrad

1289 words - 6 pages

Sometimes a character, one that is barely mentioned in the novel, can be an integral part of the novel itself - one who brings out one of the novel's main themes. Kurtz is one such example in Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness". The mystery in this novel is mainly about a character named Kurtz whom Marlow desires to meet and speak with. Kurtz, like many others, changes due to overexposure in the African jungle. But even after Marlow meets with Kurtz, Kurtz is still a mystery to Marlow and to Conrad's readers. To Marlow, Kurtz became widely known as the man with many faces -like adding an entire new identity over his body. In the novel, Kurtz can be viewed in many perspectives. He could be ...view middle of the document...

When Marlow first sees the "legendary" Kurtz, his eyes sees an ordinary man who has lived in the jungle for quite some time; but at other times, he sees a man who utterly has gone insane. Even before Marlow reached Kurtz, he didn't even know who Kurtz is to the fullest degree. All of the information about Kurtz has been through another person - which has a good chance of the information of being colored by the individual; such as the Russian, who praised Kurtz as a good friend, or the general manager, who sees Kurtz more negatively. Even when Marlow finally meets with Kurtz, he still doesn't understand fully who Kurtz is. Conrad uses these two mysteries to reflect our own lives. Like Africa and Kurtz, we hide something, a mystery. Conrad is mainly focusing on things we don't admit in our lives. When he sees Kurtz on his death bed, he sees "the change[s] that came over his features I have never seen before;" those are the changes Conrad wants in us in a way - that we come forth become true men and women and acknowledge yourself as who you are. Marlow sees the ambiguity, the changes, his overall nature, etc, of how Kurtz became a man nobody will ever understand to the fullest - he revealed his inner ways and revealed what he was hiding.Like Kurtz, Conrad also views Africa as a mystery as well. Africa, before imperialism, has always been a "blank space on the earth" (5). Despite all of the exploration the Europeans have done, they have only experienced a fringe of the enigmatic world of Africa. For example, when Marlow sails though the Congo River, Marlow sees "a mystery greater....than the curious, inexplicable note of desperate grief in this savage clamor that had swept by us on the river-bank, behind the blind whiteness of the fog (28). Marlow sees the fog/Africa is hiding something from him, his curiosity driving him closer to the truth that awaits him. In a flash, Marlow is stroked with a dazzling dose of reality - he sees the African natives showing their culture and way of life. He is fascinated yet unable to use this visual clue to decipher what Africa is trying to tell him: that like Kurtz, Africa is also revealing the truth about itself, that it is also savage.Along with the sense of mystery, Kurtz also gives Marlow a lesson that is encoded through the words, "The Horror! The Horror!" (64). After hearing these 4 words, Marlow begun to realize what Kurtz is trying to tell him - that man hide their true nature,...

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