Heart of Darkness

Marlow's Reaction to the Death of Kurtz

Based on a close reading of the conclusion to Conrad's Heart of Darkness, explain Marlow's reaction to the death of Kurtz.

Several dramatic shifts in perspective characterise Marlow's changing reaction to the death of Kurtz in Conrad's Heart of Darkness. This changing or evolving perspective is ignited once Marlow returns to Belgium and begins to interact with the people who knew Kurtz prior to his derangement resulting from his savage experience in the Congo jungle; this eventually culminates in the meeting between Marlow and Kurtz's Intended. It is through this meeting with the Intended that Marlow truly begins to appreciate the gross paradox between what Western ideals consider civilised and uncivilised, allowing him to fully comprehend his mixed feelings toward Kurtz and the dark experience he was witness to in the Congo Jungle.

It isn't until Marlow has been restored to health by his Aunt in Belgium that he fully begins to contemplate Kurtz' existence. Close friends and relatives of Kurtz visit Marlow and offer a largely idealised version of their personal memories of the man Kurtz. These memories contrast dramatically with Marlow's own darker recollections of the Kurtz he encountered in the...

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