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

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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.

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