Kurtz's Downfall in Heart of Darkness

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Money: The Root of Darkness
Sophocles once said, “Money: There’s nothing in the world so demoralizing as money.” Since the beginning of time, humans have associated money with tearing away people’s goodness or, for a more known example, the saying that money is the root of all evil. In Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Kurtz exemplifies this exact situation of becoming somewhat addicted to gaining riches and lets his darker side take control. This tragic obsession eventually leads to his character’s downfall.

Kurtz is a character who takes his success in his job and his power over the “savages” very seriously and accepts darkness into his life because of the hunger for money. Making money is like a religion to him. He uses this power in the business as an intimidation tool. Marlow recalls a conversation with a chap on the boat in which the man states, “He declared he would shoot me unless I gave him the ivory and then cleared out of the country, because he could do so, and had a fancy for it, and then there was nothing on earth to prevent him killing whom he jolly well pleased” (Conrad, 315). The people underneath Kurtz are complaisant because he had been put up so high on a pedestal and was so incredibly intimidating. Through his job, Kurtz is put into a position of power and was able to choose the path he wanted to take. Obviously, he chooses to respond to that inner darkness deep inside of him.

Kurtz is not afraid to hurt anyone who stands in his way. He abuses the “savages” with his lack of morality and takes away their native riches. His family life, with his intended, slopes downhill as he has another mistress amongst the tribe. She never knows this, but the idea and regret of it is one of the things that eventually drives Kurtz to be somewhat insane.

Marlow is extremely perplexed by Kurtz and wishes to understand him, although he does not know why. He sees what Kurtz is doing is wrong and, in a sense, I think Marlow wants to save him...
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