An Analysis of Kurtz in the Heart of Darkness

Topics: Heart of Darkness, Africa, Congo River Pages: 2 (723 words) Published: May 19, 2011
Heart of Darkness tells the tale of a man named Marlow and his quest to find the almost mythical figure of Kurtz. Kurtz is a station chief working for a Dutch trading company at the very end of the Congo river. Kurtz, along with the other station chiefs who are working at various stations along the Congo river, are charged to harvest the plentiful natural resources of the large African continent, primarily ivory. Marlow, who is an experienced sailor and river boat pilot, is charged by the company that employs Kurtz to lead an expedition into the heart of the African Congo to find Kurtz and figure out why he has stopped shipping ivory. Marlow eventually finds his man, only to discover that Kurtz has slipped into madness. Kurtz dies on the trip back out of Africa, only to utter his last words, “The horror! The horror!”. Kurtz has also scribbled all over his report which he was to turn in to his superiors on the situation and people of the African continent. The scribbling read “EXTERMINATE ALL THE BRUTES”. These two phrases hold important meaning in Heart of Darkness, as it describes how Kurtz really felt at the end of his journey.

Kurtz was described several times to Marlow before and during the trip as a different type of man. This colonial period was famous for the hypocrisy of the European Empires, who in their double edged mission of spreading the culture of the white man while harvesting resources of the foreign lands of the world, horribly failed on the former and were astonishingly successful at the latter. Kurtz was supposed to be a different kind of man. He was described to Marlow as being a true humanitarian, a man who would not only turn a profit for the company but at the same time uplift and civilize the natives of Africa. Marlow was immensely impressed with Kurtz and was eager to finally see the man for himself. What Marlow found couldn’t have been further from the truth.

When Marlow finally see’s Kurtz and his compound for the first time, he’s...
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