Apocalypse Now

Brutality and Disillusionment in Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now 11th Grade

Individuals have the capacity for brutality and disillusionment in the desperate pursuit for power in human nature. Humanity has the potential to adopt methods of hypocrisy and dishonesty leading to an atavistic descent into brutality, or conversely discover a concealed truth, leading to disillusionment about the nature of humankind. This capability to transcend the limitations of individuals' sensibilities is explored in both Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now, where both narratives explore the universal capacity for brutality and hypocrisy through Kurtz's atavism, while the potential for disillusionment for these actions is expressed through Marlow and Willard's journey into self-discovery and uncovering the lie of their civilisation. Conrad responds to King Leopold's hypocrisy and atrocities committed in the Congo Free State, while Coppola re-contextualizes this in terms of the hypocrisy and absurdity of the US in the Vietnam War.

In Heart of Darkness, Conrad originally establishes Kurtz as a perfect embodiment of European civilization, but who engages in an atavistic descent towards brutality in Africa, suggesting the universal capacity for brutality in mankind when the constraints of civilization are removed. Conrad...

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