Heart of Darkness - Lies

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Heart of Darkness

By: Joseph Conrad

According to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, a lie is an untrue or inaccurate statement that may or may not be believed true by the speaker or it is something that misleads or deceives. In other words, a lie is an untruth. In life lies are told for many different reasons. In fiction they give a little more body to the plot. In Conrad's Heart of Darkness, Marlow dislikes lies and therefore only tells them in extraordinary circumstances. The lie show that Marlow, even though he has been touched by evil, he is still a good man himself; that he never actually tells a lie, though he lets others continue to believe what they already believe; and by doing this, it helps him justify the lies. Marlow, in the middle of his story, interrupts himself and says "You know I hate, detest, and can't bear a lie." If reading this and only this statement alone, we can clearly see Marlow does not like lies. Marlow feels there is a "taint of death, and a flavor of mortality in lies." Lying makes him feel "miserable and sick, like biting something rotten would do." Since he feels this way, we as the reader know that he would only tell a lie in extraordinary circumstances.

The lie was told to Kurtz’s “intended" so that the beloved image of her dead fiancé would not be destroyed. She has waited at least two years for her lover to return from Africa, and now he is dead. During this time she has built his image up in her mind. To her, Kurtz is a man to be admired. She feels it would be "impossible not to love him." She was proud to have been engaged to Kurtz, and would be shocked to learn of the bad things he had done in the jungle. Marlow had to decide if he should tell her the truth about Kurtz and cause her even greater sadness, or let her go on believing that he was indeed a good man. This is an extraordinary circumstance, and so one in which Marlow could tell a lie. The significance of this lie is that it would serve no purpose to tell the...
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