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Comparative Essay Heart of Darkness vs Apocalyspe Now

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Evil Lives as Morality Dies: A Comparative Essay on Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now "Evil runs faster than death" is a famous quote by Socrates in which he commentates on the depths of evil and depravity which men can sink to in trying to dodge death. Evil and death are two respective conclusions that are inevitable to all men; all men are faced with the decision of falling prey to one or the other. This decision is exemplified in the plot of both Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad and its movie counterpart - Apocalypse Now by Francis Ford Coppola. The European/American characters in the plot are all put in a situation which forces them to either abandon their morality and sink into evil, or die because they are unwilling or unable to adapt to the savage moral climate. Ultimately, the portrayal of this choice reveals the opinion that those who succumb to evil rather than accept death are weak and worthless men, while those who attempt to defy death by choosing to resist evil such - as the Kurtz'es and the protagonists, are noble. In Heart of Darkness, the characters' choices are between savagery and death by disease. ...read more.


The ones who succumb to evil will not become ill, whereas those who do not will die from the sickness. In Apocalypse Now, Kilgore's inhumanity is shown in a poignant scene where he appears to sympathize with a man who is literally holding his entrails in his hands by giving him water, but forgets about him the moment he hears a celebrity has landed on his camp. His madness is shown by his grossly exaggerated fascination with surfing - he orders his men to surf on a beach when there is still a fight going on, eliciting disbelief from Willard and his crew who are still sane. Yet, Kilgore is portrayed as a successful and loved leader, it is the very madness and inhumanity that has raised him to the rank of commanding officer, much like the Manager in Heart of Darkness. Their awareness of their own invulnerability is also paralleled, as shown when Kilgore does not even duck when he hears a shell approaching him (in the scene where Willard, his crew and Kilgore all land on a battlefield beachfront), safe in the belief that he will "come out of the war without a scratch" - exactly how the manager is impervious to the jungle's deadly diseases. ...read more.


This difference is superficial in terms of the effect on the plot and themes, but it reveals the differences in the expectations the authors have of their audience's interests - modern filmgoers much more appreciative of a spectacle for the eyes rather than a spectacle for the imagination. Ultimately, the Kurtz's of both works are portrayed as heroes in their demise - having explored both sides of the choice between of evil and death they choose death rather than losing their humanity and morality. In conclusion, both Heart of Darkness and its more modern film counterpart Apocalypse Now deal heavily with the choice between Evil and Death, a philosophical idea first proposed by Socrates. The parallels between these two dissimilar yet related works lie in both the many men who surround the protagonists in the story, specific leaders among the Europeans/Americans and the quasi-villain of the stories - Kurtz. This theme that both works follows is used to express Socrates's opinion that death is a preferable choice to losing one's morality, and those who decide on the reverse of weak willed and pitiful individuals. It is a profound idea, important enough that authors of two different time periods both thought it necessary to include such deliberate features of it in their work. ...read more.

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