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Plummet to the Heart of Darkness

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In the end of “Heart of Darkness,” Marlow, in delivering the last words of the deceased agent, lied to Kurtz fiancée. The journey he had in their way back was ghastly and he could not relate it to anyone. Thus, instead of saying “The Horror! The Horror!” (Part 3, pg. 62) which are the last words left by Kurtz; Marlow told Kurtz’ fiancée that it was her name which he have last mentioned. Even though he lied, Marlow have done the best action, for in doing so, he have kept the dark secrets of Kurtz and have preserved good as it was. The profound effect of extreme isolation, from the society and civilization, would be kept from dispersal. Never would people be united with these evil Kurtz have encountered and instead they would only see the good that Kurtz have left.

In explaining the decision made by Marlow in the end of the story, we need to trace the reasons that urged him to do so. His trip to the Congo, a succeeding conquest during the late 1890’s, was intended to elevate commerce and bring forth civilization to the native savage men of the unstrained regions. Such conquest, as other conquests have begun, started out as a heart warming plan. But what commenced as a diplomatic journey later turned out to be vicious self-centered colonization plots that emphasized discrimination, racism, and ultimately slavery. It was appalling and perhaps shameful in itself. Marlow is right when he said, “The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much.” (Part 1, pg. 4) Perhaps it really is intended to civilize the primitive men, a scheme of “weaning those ignorant millions from their horrid ways,” (Part 1, pg. 9) as Marlow’s aunt pointed out. But looking at the results, people would think otherwise. Seeing the dismal situation of the natives, being maltreated by the Company and the horrible disease that prevails in the place, Marlow have decided that such scenes aren’t helpful if shown to others; as it will only arouse the whites’ sense of being superior which may further develop racial discrimination and slavery.

Nevertheless, Marlow have critically looked upon the cause that drove those men to turn from their righteous ways and end in a state of madness, wherein only greed is the running concept and where people are enslaved by their own devils. In the end, he understood that it was through vast solitude that one loose hold of his principles. Kurtz, in the story, was renowned for his expressiveness and distinguished moral beliefs. But once left alone in the Congo, with no one to confide to, he was forced to commune with his inner self, his inner evil. It is exactly as how Marlow described their entry to the Interior Station, “The reaches opened before us and closed behind, as if the forest had stepped leisurely across the water to bar the way for our return. We penetrated deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness.” (Part 2, pg. 30) Indeed, once united with the inner evil, there is no turning back. Marlow proves it further, “Everything belonged to him–but that was a trifle. The thing to know was what he belonged to, how many powers of darkness claimed him for their own. That was the reflection that made you creepy all over… He had taken a high seat amongst the devils of the land–I mean literally.” (Part 2, pg. 43) With that words said, he supplemented the idea that what happened to Kurtz in their way back should be a secret to be kept forever; even from Kurtz’ closest family, friends, and his fiancée.

But humans as we all are, we realize our faults. However, often than not, it is too late. As Marlow, together with his shipmates and Kurtz, sailed back home, Kurtz, upon seeing the dark silhouette of Marlow, becomes conscious of the mistakes he have done and became clearly aware of his relationship to the devil. At that certain moment, he repents for everything, leaving all his well written papers to Marlow. But the trails left by his evil remained. That’s why, when at last grasped the profundity from which he had failed from his noble goals, he screamed, “The Horror! The Horror!” (Part 3, pg. 62) This nightmare-like incident shocked Marlow to the point that he could not speak about it after arriving to the city. He was vastly affected by the fact that a man as Kurtz, who thought of himself as forever ethical, could have so much darkness enduring in him. Talking face to face with Kurtz’ fiancée while looking at her sorrowful expression, he could not reveal the terrible truth that Kurtz have bestowed. So instead of telling her that Kurtz said “The Horror! The Horror!” he said that Kurtz’ last words was her name.

Kurtz may have been ignorant and corrupted during his stay at the Congo, but his love for his fiancée was not marred. Despite all that he have gone through, upon the journey back home, he was more than looking forward to be reunited with his fiancée. This strong love between Kurtz and his fiancée might also have been one of the most significant reasons why Marlow chose to lie. Kurtz’ greed that overwhelmed him, just like other conquistadors have been besieged, as supported in the second paragraph, was not any of his fiancées fault. The ultimate darkness that conquered Kurtz, making him mad and scheming, as seen in the third paragraph, was brought by his great solitude and not merely something that his fiancée have brought. At the end of the story, the audience, through the exemplary and detailed narrative of Marlow in “The Heart of Darkness,” comprehends what Marlow rightfully says; that a man, as righteous and dignified as anyone could be, when detached from the emaciated shroud of civilization could be engulfed by the evil and corruption that lingers within him. But this evil, this darkness within, could be a lesson from which we can all learn from—either for our advantage or our loss.

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