To Live or to Die
As stated by Professor Rosenthal, characters are not people, and they are apart of an author’s bag of tricks to make a point. I believe the author of Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad, used that character Kurtz as a symbol to represent savagery. Savagery can be defined as an uncontrolled, fierce and hostile individual. I believe there is a certain degree of darkness/savagery that lies within every being, but it does not always emerge, and if so can prevail to the point of ultimate destruction, that is Mr. Kurtz. We come to know and form our opinions about him by reading the story chapter-by-chapter, narrated by the character, Marlow. To fully understand Kurtz’ representation it’s crucial to first know what the author’s symbolic intentions were when creating the character, and analyze how the narrator’s attitude towards Kurtz changes throughout the story.
I believe Conrad created Kurtz to make a point to the readers that he is a representation of savagery. Its one thing to just read the word, knowing what it means, or to just say something is savage without a meaningful justification. Reading Heart of Darkness really gives a great depiction of what savagery really is. Conrad used Kurtz to trail us as readers along, unraveling all the mysteries that Kurtz portrays. Not only do I think Conrad connected Kurtz with savagery but with corruption, exploitation, and hypocrisy as well. Towards the end of the book, one is really able to grasp the connection between savagery and Kurtz in many ways, but it wasn’t until the journey continued throughout the story do we realize that. The narrator, Marlow is always open-minded about Kurtz at first, and then he sees the events going on and eventually sees how savage his character really is.
In the beginning of his journey, Marlow hears nothing but good things about Kurtz. He envies him, he thinks he is this extraordinary man that he strives to be like and would hope to be able to finally meet one day....
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