Heart of Darkness

Matters of the Truth

'You know I hate, detest, and can't bear a lie' (Marlow). Examine the significance of this comment in the novel as a whole.

On first inspection this comment seems rather straightforward; a reflection of the protagonist's honest and open personality. It is only when the reader asks himself why it is that Marlow condemns lies so emphatically that it becomes a significant reflection on the rest of the novel. Marlow's relationship with the truth is a complicated one, and whilst appearing to disagree with deception in general, he indulges in it himself on several levels. His role as narrator, firstly, gives him the freedom to convey certain person opinions (especially regarding the questionable virtues of colonialism), and although he is never wholly deceptive, his use of language is surely capable of manipulating his audience in a certain way. When applied to Marlow's experience of the expedition into the Congo, the title quotation is interesting for different reasons, as it gives perspective into a situation in which human values are constantly being questioned and challenged. The contrast between the characters of Kurtz and Marlow also revolves around the idea of concealment and exposure.

At one point in the...

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