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The Character of Kurtz in "Heart of Darkness"

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"I tried to break the spell - the heavy, mute spell of the wilderness - that seemed to draw him to its pitiless breast by the awakening of forgotten and brutal instincts, by the memory of gratified and monstrous passions. This alone, I was convinced, had driven him out to the edge of the forest, to the bush, towards the gleam of fires, the throb of drums, the drone of weird incantations; this alone had beguiled his unlawful soul beyond the bounds of permitted aspirations." (p. 173-174) In the center of the plot of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness stands the character of Kurtz, an ivory trader who has lost any idea of where his home is. ...read more.


In comparison to the jungle, Marlow feels small and insignificant. Nothing seems to be able to break the silence of the wilderness, which is why it is described as "mute". Although these adjectives build a somewhat depressing feeling of the environment, they are followed by the image of its "pitiless breast". While the noun suddenly turns the jungle into a mother taking care of her son, Kurtz, the word "pitiless", which means "cruel" or "severe", suggests that something is being enforced. Kurtz is a man who was raised away from the wilderness, which is why the conclusion that he is forced to live in the jungle against his real will is understandable, but the jungle's mother-like portrayal states that it is all for his own good. ...read more.


When he is "beyond the bounds of permitted aspirations", Kurtz can allow himself to be the person he is by nature, the way he was born to be, without artificial laws limiting his personality. In his search of his place in the world, Kurtz ultimately goes with the primitive African environment, distancing himself from the world that has limited the nature of his character. While Marlow has definitely begun to question whether the more developed culture is the right one to represent, there is no dilemma for Kurtz. Although he does not feel like he is a perfect fit for the jungle, it is a home much closer to him than his previous one. ...read more.

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