Heart of Darkness- Meaning Behind Kurtz's Last Words

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Heart of Darkness- Meaning Behind Kurtz's Last Words

By | Feb. 2013
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Darkness resides in everyone, whether people want to admit it or not. Sometimes the evil is subtle, like hidden abuse while other times it is beyond obvious, like genocide. Whether it is subtle or known, that darkness will eat away at a person’s soul. Kurtz was an intelligent person and respected back home. What happened? He gave into the darkness and unleashed it upon the natives in Africa. In Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad uses Kurtz’s last words as a recognition of life choices and a proclamation of insight to the consequences of releasing the darkness within. On the surface Kurtz’s last words, “The horror! The horror!” (Conrad, 69), can be accredited to Kurtz reliving his life before he dies. Some people use the saying ‘my life flashed before my eyes’ after being in a near death experience. Since Kurtz was dying, it is likely he saw a replay of his life. Why would Kurtz be horrified about that? According to his intended, “[H]is goodness shown in every act…” (Conrad, 76), so what did Kurtz have to worry about? Kurtz worried about the goodness of his actions. Could it be the goodness his intended had mentioned was shown in the International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs where his eloquent words teemed with sympathy for the natives? However, Kurtz erased any goodness when he wrote “Exterminate all the brutes” (Conrad, 50) at the end. Therefore it can be assumed that whatever goodness Kurtz had before his job in Africa, it was gone now. In fact, as Kurtz saw his life go by him once more, what he saw horrified him. Everybody in Heart of Darkness views the natives as savage, inferior creatures and they are perhaps demeaned the most by Kurtz. At the Outer and Central Station the blacks were physically beaten and starved. Marlow describes them as “[B]undles of acute angles” (Conrad, 17), and they looked like they were “in some picture of a massacre or a pestilence” (Conrad, 17). The Europeans did not care about the natives and acted accordingly....

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