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Discussing Heart Of Darkness, The Hollow Men, and Apocalypse Now

Relationship between Heart Of Darkness, The Hollow Men, and Apocalypse Now

The Hollow Men is a poem by T.S. Eliot who won the Nobel Prize in 1948 for all his great accomplishments. The Hollow Men is about the hollowness that all people have; while Heart of Darkness is a story of the darkness that all people have. The poem written by Eliot was greatly influenced by Conrad and Dante. Some people may even think that WWI also influenced it. It was written after World War I and could be describing how people’s beliefs had been eroded. I think that a lot of the poem is written about Heart Of Darkness, and Dante’s Inferno is used as imagery for the poem. In this essay I will show how the poem The Hollow Men is talking about the same thing as the Heart Of Darkness, how lines from the Hollow Men are describing scenes from Heart Of Darkness, and why Brando quoted the poem in the movie Apocalypse Now.

The poem The Hallow Men is talking obviously talking about hollowness in men. In the book Heart Of Darkness there hollow men. B.C. Southam says that: “Conrad’s story is full of hollow men-empty of faith, of personality, of moral strength, of humanity”(A Student’s Guide to the Selected Poems of T.S. Eliot 151). This is especially observed in Kurtz. He can be described as ‘hollow at the core’ and the whole story revolves around this hollowness. In Eliot’s poem when he is talking about hollow men he is talking a…

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…he same feeling of the hollow man. They both know that every man has a darkness. Eliot went so far as to use actual scenes from the book and incorporate them into his poem. The movie Apocalypse Now uses the Poem to show the Darkness that Eliot has described so well. The book, the poem, and the movie are all great in their own way. There seems to be something great about darkness.

Works Cited

Southam, B.C. A Student’s Guide to The Selected Poem of T.S. Eliot. 1963: Boston, Faber and Faber Limited. 1990

Hargrove, Nancy. Landscape as Symbol in the Poetry of T.S. Eliot. Mississippi UP, 1978.

Conrad, Joseph. Heart Of Darkness. 1899. Norton

moralhod Moral Ambiguity in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness

Moral Ambiguity in Heart of Darkness

In Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness we see various attitudes toward morality. It is extremely difficult, maybe impossible, to deduce the exact endorsement of morality that Conrad intended. Conrad provides his readers with several instances where the interpretation of morality is circumstantial, relative, and even “indeterminable.” One finds many situations in the novel that lie somewhere between morality, immorality, and amorality. A few examples from the novel that illustrate this idea are: the depiction of Kurtz as revealed through Marlowe, Marlowe’s own actions and thoughts, and the Kurtz’ death scene.

In the case of Kurtz, Conrad seems to give us blatant amorality. Conrad constantly suggests that the issue of morality with Kurtz is moot, as he has transcended society’s, western society’s, stringent standards of morality. The Russian that Marlowe meets just after entering Kurtz’ domain explains to Marlowe that “you can’t judge Mr. Kurtz as you would an ordinary man.” The Russian believes that Kurtz has transcended all “ordinary” value systems. Marlowe confirms this idea in his enchantment with Kurtz when he and the manager of the steamboat converse about the nature of Kurtz’ actions. Marlowe asks the Manager if he thinks the methods of Kurtz are unsound, to which the Manager quickly replies in the affirmative. However, Marlowe cannot exactly concur with this assessment of Kurtz’ actions as he sees in them “no method at all.” The Manager, an unreliable source of information as he is a biased character of the western persuasion, sees Kurtz as immoral, likely because he sees Kurtz as greedy. Whereas Marlowe is completely unable to relate to any sort of moral system, if indeed the…

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…ne the value other moralities. So, in the case of Kurtz, morality is not moot. Instead of being judged, Kurtz now makes the judgement, an act of a moral being.

In conclusion, just as Conrad’s narrator says, the story is hazy. The theme of morality, as Ian Watt put it, is “especially difficult to decipher.” Conrad toys with the characters’ value systems. As we can easily see, they are filled with uncertainty. Marlowe and Kurtz undergo changes in their view of morality, Marlowe, perhaps, never arriving at a tangible destination. These shifts and changes make it impossible to arrive at the exact endorsement of morality, if indeed there is one, which Conrad intended.

Works Cited:

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. New York and London: Norton. 1988.

Watt, Ian. Conrad in the Nineteenth Century. Berkeley and Los Angeles: U of California P. 1979.

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