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"Heart of Darkness" commentary. This extract belongs to part 3 of the book, at the end when Kurtzs health is deteriorating rapidly and he is lying on his sickbed. Although it is a fairly short extract, it is dense with information and imagery whi

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HEART OF DARKNESS Extract 4 This extract belongs to part 3 of the book, at the end when Kurtz's health is deteriorating rapidly and he is lying on his sickbed. Although it is a fairly short extract, it is dense with information and imagery which is very typical of Conrad's writing style. The author's use of different literary techniques such as juxtaposition and powerful, vivid imagery that appeal to our senses aids the reader in the exploration of a number of themes in the novel such as: spiritual and physical deterioration as a result of Imperialism, good versus evil, the uncertainty of emotions... The extract begins with Marlow's talk with Kurtz beside Kurtz's soon to be deathbed. The author describes that Marlow as "startled" at Kurtz' desperate words which are spoken out "tremulously" allowing the reader to have a better comprehension of Kurtz's personality. Marlow's surprise at Kurtz's softness and despair implies that Kurtz has hitherto been a dominant and perhaps ruthless figure. In this particular situation, "darkness" as a motif regularly used in the novel symbolizes "death" as Kurt says "I am lying here in the dark, waiting for death". ...read more.


Not willing to hurt Kurtz feelings, although Marlow knows that Kurtz will die yet he still lie by murmuring "Oh, nonsense!" However, it is puzzling why Marlow says that he is not "touched" but "fascinated" by Kurtz's conditions at that moment. All the words "ivory face", "somber pride", "ruthless power", "craven terror", "intense" and "hopeless despair" together remind us of Kurtz's past and all his wrong doings yet they create a very confusing emotional response from the reader, one cannot be sure what he is feeling at the moment, perhaps that is Marlow's feeling at the time he is facing Kurtz. But these words and imagery explain why Marlow is not touched but fascinated. He is not touched because he knows how ruthless Kurtz had been in the past and that he is getting what he deserves yet he is fascinated because of even at this very last moment, Kurtz's facial expressions still seem to reflect his "splendid past". Kurtz finally cries out "the horror! the horror!" gives the reader reasons to believe that he has realized his misconduct in the past and that he is regretting now having done that and thus signifies the theme of good versus evil. ...read more.


At this point, one should really question who actually is the evil person in the story. Is it Kurtz or is it the manager? It is interesting how Marlow tells that "there was a lamp in there - light...and outside it was so beastly, beastly dark". Kurtz has passed away yet Marlow says that there is light in his room and darkness is outside suggests that Kurtz is not the source of evilness and that he turns wicked because of the environment that he lives in. Darkness is lurking around, waiting to corrupt all men with the corrupted and greedy heart thus emphasizes even stronger the theme of spiritual and physical deterioration as a result of Imperialism. This extract illuminates the insignificance of individuals in the context of the book, it shows us that it is Imperialism itself that blinds the people and leads them to this heart of darkness and corrupt their hearts and minds. This fact is clearly illustrated by Marlow's remark that "the next day the pilgrims buried something in a muddy hole". Tomorrow, Kurtz will only be a something in a muddy hole and everyone would soon forget him, he is of little significance but beware of the evil darkness that had turned him evil. ?? ?? ?? ?? ...read more.

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