Marlow’s wilderness is not vibrant nor majestic, nor is it boisterous in its vitality, illuminating and nurturing its lush bounty within its sensuous bosom. It is not a wondrous place, intoxicating with radiant color and a symphony of sounds those who journey into its interior. It is not quiescent nor serene, willing to reveal its secrets, easily subdued or tamed. His wilderness is a primeval, mysterious enigma that swallows light and sound, rationality and language, imprisoning them deep within its immense folds. It is fascinatingly savage, menacing in its power to mesmerize and lure, and finally to seduce the “bearers of a spark from the sacred fire” (67).
Many had set out to conquer it, dreaming of creating splendrous empires; others had embarked on a quest to extract riches, fame, and glory from deep within its heart; yet others had been beckoned by the irresistible call of the unknown. Lucky were those that could “glide past [it], veiled…by a slightly disdainful ignorance” (68), shielding themselves with the mantle of civilization, secure in their invincibility. Marlow was luckier than most, for the wilderness called to his “very heart [with] its mystery, its greatness, the amazing reality of [its] concealed life” (95); yet he was able to realize in time that it was but an illusion, a “deceitful flow from the heart of an impenetrable darkness” (124), and to step back from the edge of the abyss.
He was good man in search of purpose and adventure, believing he would find his aspirations by sailing the waters of a mighty river. Upon arriving at his destination he was disheartened by the actions of his brethren, by their “conquest of the earth”, which to him mostly meant “taking it away from those who [had] a different complexion…than [themselves]” (70). Contemptuous of their beliefs and brutal behavior, their greed and deceitfulness, he went in search of a man considered “the emissary of pity…science and progress” (94); believing that in him he would finally find someone to guide him through the “silence of the land” (95).
However, the deeper he penetrated into the somber stillness of the wilderness, he could not escape the realization of his vulnerability. In that landscape he could either be “swept off without leaving a whisper or a shadow behind”(114) or infinitely worse, “the powers of darkness [could] claim him for their own” (126).
The Power of Kurtz in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness
The Power of Kurtz in Heart of Darkness
Power has been defined as the psychological relations over another to get them to do what you want them to do. We are exposed to forms of power from the time of birth. Our parents exercise power over us to behave in a way they deem appropriate. In school, teachers use their power to help us learn. When we enter the work world the power of our boss motivates us to perform and desire to move up the corporate ladder so that we too can intimidate someone with power one day. In Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness Kurtz had a power over the jungle and its people that was inexplicable.
Kurtz is one of many men sent into the jungle to rape the land and its people of its natural resources. Many men have journeyed into the jungle also refereed as the heart of darkness never to return. Kurtz goes into the jungle and becomes obsessed with the people and the land. Though Kurtz has an obsession with ivory this is not the sole reason for him to overstay his welcome in the jungle.
Power this is what kept Kurtz in the jungle for such a long period of time. Determined not to become another causality he becomes allies with the natives through fear. Kurtz is a brilliant man who did not have to adapt to his environment but had it adapt to him. On top of a hill his hut is surrounded by the heads of men who have betrayed in him some sort, this serves as a reminder to anyone who contemplates going against his wish.
When Marlow finally reaches Kurtz he is in declining health. This same jungle which he loved, embraced and consumed with every ounce of his flesh had also taken its toll on him. Marlow finally meets the man whose name has haunted him on his river journey. Could this frail human be the ever so powerful Kurtz? The man who has journeyed into uncharted territories and has come back with scores of ivory and the respect of the native tribe. Yes, this was the very man and though he is weak and on his way to death his power still exudes from him.
This is where the definition of power comes in to play the “psychological relation” see even though his body was decomposing his mind was still sharp.