Restraint

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Restraint

Restraint is a major idea in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Restraint constantly influences the decisions people make. Kurtz's lack of restraint kills him, while Marlow's restraint saves and prevents him from becoming like Kurtz. Kurtz is a man who "[kicks] himself loose of the earth" (Conrad, 61). He does not have allegiance to anyone except to himself. Kurtz's absence of restraint exists because he holds a lusty power in an un-civilized country. Restraint is affected by three factors; power, lust, and his surroundings. Kurtz's display of restraint is a prime example that exemplifies the affect of these three factors on restraint.

Kurtz was not always the power hungry man portrayed in Conrad's book. According to his Intended, Kurtz was an admired man who had a "generous heart" and a "noble mind" (Conrad, 70). However, after his expedition into Africa, he became a changed man; an "insoluble problem" (Conrad, 50). The new Kurtz "[kicks] the very earth to pieces" (Conrad, 61). "Let us say – nerves, [go] wrong, and [causes] him to preside at certain midnight dances ending with unspeakable rites" (Conrad, 45). He has dropped all sense and morality and continues to live on according to his various lusts.

Kurtz originally goes to Africa in order to earn a living by collecting ivory. His massive compilation of ivory exceeds those of the other men put together. Although the areas around the Inner Station are rich in ivory, Kurtz greedily collects ivory by means of force. He eventually raids the areas around his station when he did not have anything to trade with. He discovers many villages and goes to them with "thunder and lightning" (Conrad, 51). He uses guns in order to frighten the natives. Through fear, the natives grew to worship Kurtz. He becomes leader of the villages; a deity. Unlike most foreigners, he does not have to adjust to his surroundings. Instead, the natives had to adapt to him. Kurtz exercises his power by...
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