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Black Truth and White Lies in Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness: Black Truth and White Lies

In Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, there is a great interpretation of the feelings of the characters and uncertainties of the Congo. Although neither Africa nor the Congo are ever actually referred to, the Thames river is mentioned as a support. This intricate story reveals much symbolism due to Conrad’s theme based on the lies, good, and evil that interact within every man.

Today, of course, the situation has changed. Most literate people realize that, by probing into the heart of the jungle, Conrad was trying to convey an impression about the heart of man, and his tale is universally read as one of the first symbolic masterpieces of English prose (Graver 28). In any event, this story recognizes primarily Marlow, its narrator, rather than Kurtz or the brutality of Belgian officials. Conrad wrote a brief statement on how he felt the reader should interpret this work: “My task which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, to make you hear, to make you feel-it is above all, to make you see.(Conrad 1897) Knowing that Conrad was a novelist who lived within his work, he wrote about the experiences as if he were writing about himself. “Every novel contains an element of autobiography- and this can hardly be denied, since the creator can only explain himself in his creations.”(Kimbrough158)

The story is written as seen through Marlow’s eyes. Marlow is a follower of the sea. His voyage up the Congo is his first experience in freshwater navigation. He is used as a tool, so to speak, for Conrad to enter the story and tell it out of his own philosophical mind. He longs to see Kurtz, in hope of appreciating all that Kurtz finds endearing in the African jungle. Marlow does not get the opportunity to see Kurtz until he is so disease-stricken that he looks more like death than a person. There are no good looks or health. ***WHERE? BEGIN THE SENTENCE MORE SPECIFICALLY THEN ‘THERE ARE…’*** In the story, Marlow remarks that Kurtz resembles “an animated image of death carved out of old ivory.”

Like Marlow, Kurtz is seen as an honorable man to many admirers, but he is also a thief, murderer, raider, and persecutor. Above all, he allows himself to be worshipped as a god.

Exposing the Darkness of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness

Revealing Lies in Heart of Darkness

A lie is an untruth. It can be a false statement or a statement left unsaid that causes someone to be misled. In life, lies are told for many different reasons. In fiction, they thicken the plot. In Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Marlow dislikes lies and therefore only tells two, both in extraordinary circumstances. The lies that Marlow tells show several things about him. For example, even though he has been touched by evil, he is still a good man. He never actually tells a lie, instead he lets others continue to believe what they already believe. This helps him justify his lies.

Marlow, in the middle of his story, interrupts himself to say “You know I hate, detest, and can’t bear a lie.” He does not think that he is better than the rest of the world. Lies simply appall him. Marlow feels there is a “taint of death, and a flavor of mortality in lies.” Lying makes him feel “miserable and sick, like biting something rotten would do.” Since he feels this way, he would only tell a lie in extraordinary circumstances.

The first lie that Marlow told was in an extraordinary circumstance. It was told because of a notion that it would somehow be of help to Mr. Kurtz. The lie was told in order to allow the brick maker to think he had more influence in the company than he actually had. This lie would help Kurtz in two ways. Firstly, it would help Marlow to get the rivets he needed to fix the boat, and that would provide Kurtz with either a means of communication or a way out of the jungle. Secondly, it would provide Kurtz with an ally who was perceived as influential. Marlow knew that others were jealous of the Mr. Kurtz’s success. Some saw him as the next “Director of the Company,” and some were trying to find a reason to hang him. If Marlow was considered powerful, he might be able to help Mr. Kurtz. This was an extraordinary reason for telling a lie.

The second lie was also told in extraordinary circumstances. It is told to “the intended” so that the image of her dead fiancé would not be destroyed. She had waited at least two years for her lover to return from Africa, and during this time had built his image up in her mind.

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