Comparing and Contrasting Marlow/Willard and Kurtz
Inherent inside every human soul is a savage evil side that remains repressed by society. History is loaded with examples of atrocities that have occurred when one culture comes into contact with another. Whenever fundamentally different cultures meet, there is often a fear of contamination and loss of self that leads one to discover more about one's true self, often causing perceived madness. Heart of Darkness, a novel written by Joseph Conrad in 1899, and Apocalypse Now, a movie directed by Francis Ford Coppola, are two works that parallel one another, but at the same time, both reflect their own era in time and their creator's own personal feelings and prejudices.
In Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, Marlow is the protagonist of the novel. He gets a job with an ivory trading company with the help from his aunt. When he reaches the outer station, he meets the chief accountant, who is the first to use the name of the mysterious Mr. Kurtz. The chief accountant speaks of him in reverent tones and alluding to a conspiracy within the Company, the particulars of which Marlow never deciphers. Again, the name "Kurtz" provides a surface that conceals a hidden and potentially threatening situation. Marlow is commissioned as an ivory agent and he is sent to ivory stations along the river. During Marlow's mission to find Kurtz in the Congo, he is also trying find himself. He, like Kurtz, had good intentions upon entering the Congo. Conrad tries to show the reader that Marlow is what Kurtz had been, and Kurtz is what Marlow would become. Along the trip into the wilderness, Marlow discovers his true self through contact with savage natives. As Marlow ventures further up the river, he feels like he is traveling back through time, where he sees the unsettled wilderness and can feel the darkness of its solitude. Marlow comes across simpler cannibalistic cultures along the banks of the river. The deeper into the jungle he...
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