Heart of Darkness, a novella written by Joseph Conrad, is a sort of monologue by a sailor named Marrow. Marrow’s Journey through the Congo left him In a very emotionally shaken state, as he witnessed multiple deaths, corpses, diseases, and other such calamities. But throughout all of this, Marrow fixates on the most elusive character, a European worshipped by the natives by the name of Kurt. Kurt is portrayed as a very talented man; owing his artistic, musical, and literary skills to a high upbringing in Europe. He later becomes known as also the most talented ivory exporter in the Congo as well.
Quartz’s death, the pinnacle of the novella, reveals to those reading that Kurt Is terrified, of what exactly Is uncertain, as he screams aloud “The Horror! The horror! ” (144) The most correct Interpretation of this statement would be that Quartz’s upbringing in Europe made him an ignorant and greedy man, and thus, when he travels to the Congo, leads him to become a tyrannical leader of both the company (for whom both Kurt and Mill work for) and the natives. Africa had only shown Kurt what was hidden within himself the entire time: A heart of darkness.
Kurt was most likely born with a predisposition to money in the same way a dowsing rod is predisposed to find water. Kurt was amazing at getting the ivory he needs, needs, and not wants, as when Marrow first speaks to Quartz’s caretaker in the Jungle, the caretaker mentions that “[Kurt] would shoot [him] unless [he] gave him the ivory,” Ivory given to Quartz’s caretaker as a gift for hunting big game. The well-to-do Kurt had his normal personality slowly corroded by his experiences In the Jungle, but these experiences all Involved a commodity collected for vanity purposes.
Seeking the class and supposed money he once had, Kurt turns to ivory as an addiction and a symbol of his new found wealth. European Society normal effects on Kurt have no hold over him any longer, and thus his true animal does show. Masked under titles such as artist, writer, and musician, Kurt had been noted as no such “ordinary man,” (125) and yet, surprisingly, these remnants of his past life follow him Into the Congo, but are no longer apart of himself; Rupee’s grasp over his mind Is released and allows him to become Just another “savage. ”
Quartz’s hoarding of ivory is completely trivial; he has no real use for it, but became addicted to the prospect of gathering more and more, as if ivory were some sort of drug. Though he works for the company, whose goal it was to gather as much ivory as possible, Kurt still does not send his stockpile of Ivory to their base of operations, and therefore does not get paid, meaning Kurt had only his hut and his Ivory to his name. But because Europe values ivory, and Kurt is the epitome of all that is European, he is mentally wired to gather as much ivory as possible and keep it to myself.
He even went so far as to slaughter enemies of a certain African tribe only so that they may assist him in his conquest for ivory. He would stop at nothing to get even the smallest amount of ivory, and it was this untamed lust which drives him to lose sight of everything but the dead-elephant tusks. His mind Is gone, and the cause time. Being that “All of Europe contributed to the making” (117) of Kurt, it is not difficult to see why both Kurt and Europe want all the ivory to themselves, and will go to any means to do so.
While Kurt threatens the lives of others, Europe sends people Just like Kurt, but with much less of a relevant backstops, into the Congo to also aid in taking down the most dangerous animal in Africa for a cosmetic object of appeal. Quartz’s famous finals words, “The horror! The horror! ” (144) point to him finally having his moment of enlightenment, as he “cried in a whisper at some knowledge[… ] at some image, at some vision[. ]” His realization being that his true being shone through only because of Rupee’s abandonment of Kurt. He was fully nurtured there, made to think like aristocrats in a logical way.
But once Kurt had been hung UT to dry in the Congo, he lost that sense of care and safety, and also his logic, only to be left with his emotional reactions to each situation he encounters. In his final moments, Kurt had finally regained a sense of this logic and realized what he had become because of Rupee’s twisted grip on his being. He realizes how terrible his late existence is because of what level he had sunken to; the level of a savage. Oblivious to his surroundings he says “the horror” twice, twice to reiterate Just how terrible of a person he had always been but did not now.
The first cry was a allegation, the second, an acceptance of the truth. In summary, Kurt begins his life with a heart of darkness and carries it with him subtly until reaching the Congo, where he is then unbound and permitted to act how he pleased without any intervention from Europe. He only realizes how terrible he had always been moments before death, and how Europe had kept his darker side chained up like a punished dog. Europe made Kurt a time bomb, ready to blow up at any moment. And when Kurt does finally blow, he shows not the well-educated, proper Kurt of Europe, but rather a parallel, the Kurt with a blazing heart of
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