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Heart of Darkness - The Named and the Unnamed

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The Named and the Unnamed Joseph Conrad's masterpiece, The Heart of Darkness, speaks of many characters with many different characteristics and personalities. It contains characters from all standings of society. In every case, except for Marlow and Kurtz, the characters are referred to by their position. Albeit the name of Fresleven, the man who commanded the steam boat on the Congo before Marlow, is mentioned, he is dead. The only characters that are called by name after that point are Marlow and Kurtz. These characters are set apart from the others in the novella. They are the two main characters of the story, however, there is something else that makes these two figures worthy of being called by name. Marlow and Kurtz are the only ones named because they do not hide who they are, everybody else does not see the truth, and they are the only ones who achieve enlightenment. ...read more.


The two men are not afraid to openly show themselves. Although the Europeans possess great knowledge of the world, they are blinded to the truth in this story. They do not see the folly and the truth that is around them. The women of the story serve as an example of this. Material possessions and the simplicity of their lives are the extent of what they see. If ivory is coming to them, they think that everything is going well. They do not realize what is behind getting the ivory. This is shown when Marlow and his aunt are speaking of the people of Africa. His aunt speaks of how the Europeans were "weaning those ignorant millions from their horrid ways." Marlow, who is not living the same lie as her and says to the reader, "It's queer how out of touch with truth women are." This can be taken as a sexist remark, however, the comment holds truth behind it. ...read more.


Marlow comes to the conclusion that Kurtz has not been able to show the restraint needed in order to remain sane in the jungle. Marlow is enlightened on the fact that when seeing the truth in life there is a decision to make. The two choices he has are to avoid society and run away, as Kurtz did, or to remain in society and show restraint. It is not possible for the other characters, the fools of society, to be enlightened because they do not see the truth and can never comprehend enlightenment. Only Marlow and Kurtz accomplish this. Having a name sets the most exceptional characters apart from everybody else. They show that they should be named by not hiding their true character, seeing the truth while others cannot, and by receiving enlightenment. There is no reason to call the other characters by name because they are blinded to the truth. The named, however, have a certain extra understanding which makes them worth naming. The unnamed are made that way to set Kurtz and Marlow apart because the two are unique people. ...read more.

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