• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Kurtz And Marlow As "Doubles" in Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.

Extracts from this document...


Roumyana Mihailova 11/2 30th March 2004 Kurtz And Marlow As "Doubles" Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad is a fascinating novel about colonialism. Its two main characters - Charlie Marlow and Mr Kurtz - are colonialists encountering the wilderness of the Africa. Both of them are Europeans, and thus the reader expects them to embody the values asserted by civilization. However, while Marlow appears to be exemplary for a man with moral conscience, Mr Kurtz's meanness is horrifying. The difference between the characters is provoking because they share a lot of characteristics: both are intelligent, good-speakers, independent and exceptional man that are ready to take risks in order to achieve their goals. As Conrad creates Mr Kurtz and Marlow as characters that are "doubles" and at the same time makes them significantly different in their morality, he demonstrates how a man with qualities but without restraints may turn into a brute. In Heart of Darkness Marlow is a sailor who tells the story of his experiences in Africa, where he has met Mr Kurtz. The narrator in the novel is one of the men who listen to Marlow's tale. Thus, the narrator makes a direct characteristic of Marlow. ...read more.


Oratory is symbolical in Heart of Darkness - it is a tool for manipulation used by civilized man. As Marlow tells his tale, the others perceive him as a voice: "For a long time already he, sitting apart, had been no more than a voice" (Conrad, p.39). However, Marlow does not use his ability to talk to manipulate the sailors. Mr Kurtz is also presented as a voice: "He was little more than a voice" (Conrad p.69). Still, Mr Kurtz's voice is amazingly influential. The Russian, a 25-years old man, is captured by Kurtz's ability to talk. He is devoted to the ill chief of the station and does not realize Kurtz's ability to manipulate him. Kurtz's words have an effect on Marlow as well. The experience of meeting "the old chap" throws "a kind of light" in his mind (Conrad p.11). It makes Marlow see the moral decay of an intelligent man and to realize the value of having restraints. Marlow is horrified by Kurtz and still admits that he is "a remarkable man": "He had something to say. He said it." (Conrad p. 101). Marlow considered it something worth respect because he himself has nothing to say. ...read more.


They feel as if they have right to do so, since they are the colonists. It seems that the only difference between those two characters is the emotional and moral hollowness of Kurtz, which allows for his moral decay. However, at the end Marlow assists Kurtz. He leaves his moral values behind to remain loyal to a person who is remarkable. He even goes as far as to lie because of Kurtz. At the end of the novel Kurtz is the last one that tells the truth and Marlow is the one that lies. So, the two characters have interacted and they have come closer to each other even in their degree of morality. What makes Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad a fascinating novel are its intriguing characters. Marlow and Kurtz are provoking because of the idea of darkness they overspread. They are "doubles", meaning that they have the same characteristics, but one of them is fiercely cruel and the other is not. That fact implies the idea that the abyss that divides civilization from barbarity may become insignificant if one has no conscience. And the result of lack of conscience is always one: darkness. 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Joseph Conrad section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Joseph Conrad essays

  1. The Heart of Darkness Marlow's story of the Roman Conquest of Britain as an ...

    his trust in people in Africa that he worked with, he didn't know where does he belong and he was afraid. And was confused where to go and who are his real friends which he could trust and feel in good hands.

  2. "Heart of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad - A character analysis of Kurtz.

    'He was hollow at the core.' Through conversing with the natives and immersing himself with them, Kurtz lost his restraint, which he had learned through civilization. By taking part in native ceremonial gatherings, he had lost his soul and he had succumbed to darkness. 'How many powers of darkness claimed him for their own.'

  1. How does Conrad present the company and Marlow's attitude towards its representatives? "Heart of ...

    However, in my opinion Marlow seems to think that it is the colonisers that have caused this to happen. A capturing metaphor used by Conrad is evidence for this, "black shadows of disease and starvation". If examined closely this portrays the white men creating these people who are now just objects and not even human.

  2. How does the preparation for the river journey at the start of Heart of ...

    physicality of the wilderness as the phrase gives you a sense that the wilderness is high above. Also you can get a psychological view of the wilderness as Kurtz had been charmed by the wilderness, in a sense that the wilderness "took him under its wing".

  1. Comparison of Beloved by Toni Morrison and Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

    trying to make up for the handsaw; Beloved was making her pay for it," (263). As Beloved established herself as a part of Denver and Sethe's lives, Denver grew stronger, more confident, and more mature. She eventually realized the detriment that Beloved was causing (especially to Sethe), and regained her grip on reality without Beloved controlling it.

  2. Is Joseph Conrad a Racist?

    Why feel such regret for a being he describes as `savage'? Not only did Marlow point out the `uncivilized' behaviour of the Africans, he took time out to spare a thought or two on the African land. He describes the land as a `black Sahara' - a desert filled with blacks and all things vile.

  1. Analizing Marlow

    Marlow also has unfavorable traits such as his sexist view of women. The representation of gender in the text Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad is a very patriarchal one, seen through the eyes of Marlow. Marlow feels that women should just do there own little house chores and nothing

  2. To what extent do I agree with Chinua Achebe's assertionthat Joseph Conrad was 'a ...

    This could interpreted in the sense that Conrad believes civilising is a white man's duty and that god endorses such actions. Although having said this I believe that a comment made by Marlow back on page 8 is the most potent and rememberable quote on the subject of Conrads colonial viewpoint, and this is (among other things)

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work