Heart Of Darkness

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade April 2001

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Heart of Darkness Many times in a novel or play, a character may go against the common good of the society in order to fulfill a personal goal or gain something at the expense of others. Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness is a novel where this idea of greed and self-indulgent deeds is a paramount theme.

During the late 1800s, almost any European found in Africa was there for one reason alone, money. The amount of imperialism and genocide that occurred during this time is unimaginable. The white race was like a leech, sucking Africa's resources and culture away to leave behind ravished lands and suffering people. Kurtz, a primary character in Heart of Darkness, is a perfect example of how the white race was able to manipulate the Africans into giving up their land, assets and in this case, their individuality and free will.

Kurtz started out very similar to Marlowe.

He was a man whose voyage to Africa was to seek out adventure and improve the conditions that existed there. As time progressed however, he realized how powerful and influential he was over the people there. Kurtz was comparable to a god in the eyes of the natives. He gave them a purposeful life. This life however, was a life devoted to him.

Kurtz was looked upon as a well-respected, intelligent man. The natives felt that by following him they would be more powerful, but in fact the opposite resulted. A quote from the novel to demonstrate how severe the situation became occurred when Kurtz said, "Exterminate all the brutes!" These people were thought of as expendable and inhuman. He produces dire consequences for the natives because of his own personal need for power.

What made Kurtz stand out in his methods, was that he did not try to conceal his greed and lust. He became looked down upon by the Company because he was so open that he revealed the greed in not just himself, but all the "humanistic" intentions in the Congo. ""¦Mr. Kurtz lacked restraint in the gratification of his various lusts, that there was something wanting in him"¦" Even the manager of the company began to realize how serious the situation was. When Marlowe arrives at the Inner Station he describes the shocking reality, ""¦while I at one bound to have been transported into some lightless region of subtle horrors, where pure, uncomplicated savagery was a positive relief, being something that had a right to exist "“ obviously - in the sunshine." It is extremely apparent as to how a person is capable of crushing a society into to better their personal situation. Kurtz is a man who is out of control. He is the quintessential example of pure greed in a human form. His treatment of humans is truly scandalous and the consequences that resulted from his evilness is unmeasurable.