Throughout the Heart of Darkness scenes, we get several glimpses of Marlow’s particular attitudes towards women, that they are creatures that live “in a world of their own, and that there had never been anything like it, and never can be” (Longman, p. 2199). Women are able to create and see the beauty in life, something that is harder for men to do, roughened by hard work and misfortunes. Marlow also states, this time to his audience aboard the Nellie, “We must help them to stay in that beautiful world of their own, lest ours gets worse” (Longman, p. 2225). By this he means simply that part of what draws men to women is their capacity for beauty, to preserve and keep the “finer” things in life, which men can draw upon to enlighten them and give a sense of peace to their existence.
This sense of needing to preserve the beliefs and “beauty” of the Intended is why Marlow lies to her in the end. He abhors lies, his own beliefs that “there is a taint of death, a flavour of mortality in lies…” (Longman, p. 2210) is what leads to the d…
Lies and More Lies in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness
Lies in Heart of Darkness
After declaring his passionate hate of lying it is odd to see the complete reversal of character in Marlow by the end of the book. Then perhaps it is not a change but merely an unexpected extension of his character that gives a different dimension to his personality.
His statement “You know I hate, detest, and can’t bear a lie…it appalls me. It makes me miserable and sick, like biting something rotten would do” (Longman 2210) gives what one may rightly consider a very straightforward clean cut description of the man’s moral view and character traits. Yet by the end of the book one may feel he has not only betrayed their trust but himself and all the values he seemed to embody during the course of the story.
Marlow’s interview with Kurtz’s Intended was less than the honesty one might have expected given his vehement stand on the issue of lying. When he went to speak to her I fully expected him to be completely honest and tell her the truth. My logic was that if she knew what Kurtz was like in reality her suffering would be eased and she would be able to gain an honest semi-objective view of the man she loved. That shows my modern thinking! It soon became clear that she was not going to accept any version of the truth and I found myself hoping that Marlow would lie to her to spare he the torture of knowing the truth. Her constant interrupting of Marlow’s dialogue in order to fill in wonderful, glowing details about the man was a complete revelation as to what she could hear and survive. Marlow says, “It was impossible not to” “Love him” she finished eagerly…”How true! How true!” (Longman 2244) . Once Marlow has decided to sugar coat the truth he begins to utter non-committal phrases in regards to Kurtz which the Intended finishes; “His words will remain,” I said. “And his example,” she whispered to herself. “Men look up to him, — his goodness shone in every act. His example” (Longman 2245). I think Marlow begins to see that he cannot be honest with her when they begin to speak of Kurtz’s death. He says, “My anger subsided before a feeling of infinite pity” (Longman 2245). She was a woman, she was weak, she was alone, and every male tendency within Marlow rose up and prevented him from crushing what was left of her fragile spirit.