The Horror! The Horror!

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 12th grade February 2008

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"The Horror? The Horror?" Usually an author uses a particular quote or phrase in their work to get the reader thinking. This quote tends to stick in the back of the reader's mind even after the novel is over. Specifically, in Conrad's, "Heart of Darkness", Kurtz final words of, "The horror! The horror!" is what Conrad wanted imprinted in the reader's mind while searching for interpretation. Conrad leaves three interpretations for the reader to decipher. "The horror!" (Conrad 86) can be seen as a recollection of Kurtz's life and what he has done in the Congo, his betrayal of civilization, or his alluding to "the intended".

First, "the horror" can be viewed upon as a description of what Kurtz has done.

Marlow observed an "expression of some pride, of ruthless power, and of craven terror" (Conrad 87) on the face of Kurtz as he is about to die, giving the reader a sense of guilt and sorrow in the mind of Kurtz as he reflects upon what he has done.

Looking back on his life, he realizes how barbaric he had become and how greed had taken over his life.

For did he not have fence posts topped with heads of savages that he had killed? Did he not let greed and his obsession for ivory take over his life? Did he not write he wanted to "exterminate the brutes"? Yes, these questions are the same questions that ran through Kurtz mind as he was lying on his deathbed. Even Marlow concludes that Kurtz has come to the reality of what he has done when he admires Kurtz for his last words in his last moment of life because "the most you can learn from (life) is some knowledge of yourself" (Conrad 87), referencing to the fact...