Fear of Nature and Savagery in “Heart of Darkness”
by Bouchera Ouahbi
“The horror! The horror!” these are the final words said by Kurtz before his death, and this is the moment when Kurtz realizes the true state of mankind, that is revealed through the power of the wilderness. Kurtz symbolizes the evil side, and his complete descent into darkness, his long life in the wilderness brings Kurtz to the point where he has full awareness of himself, and about all mankind, as Marlow says about him:
” the wilderness . . . seemed to draw him to its pitiless breast by the awakening of forgotten and brutal instincts, by the memory of gratified and monstrous passions . . . this alone had beguiled his unlawful soul beyond the bounds of permitted aspirations.” (112)
of Darkness,” we are presented with many metaphors, of light and dark, representing
nature and human beings, the journey made by Marlow in the
The further Marlow travels into the
jungle, the deeper he looks into himself, and faces the evil side of human
beings. Marlow sails up the
Nature is also connected with death. Seeing several Africans lying despondently under a tree, Marlow describes them as "they were nothing earthly now - nothing but black shadows." Marlow says outright that there is nothing left of these people, just the shadows within them that are finally visible, which symbolizes the savageness of the colonizer and his mistreatment of the Africans. While Kurtz was dying, Marlow calls him hollow. "The original Kurtz frequented the bedside of the hollow sham." He is speaking about the wasted state of the man, but also at the damage that has been done to his soul. The true nature of the human soul was released, and its true hollowness has been revealed. Conrad's reference to shadows and hollowness, help to reinforce his theme that all humans are dark and hollow at heart. Marlow says about Kurtz’s gaze "piercing enough to penetrate all the hearts that beat in the darkness" (119).
THE DARKNESS OF HUMAN BEING HEART
Unlike Kurtz who was captured by the evil in the wilderness, and chooses to follow his desires, Marlow was supposed to make a choice between good and evil; His journey, based on fear of nature, within his soul and his confrontation with evil makes him able to see the essence of the human being, and chooses to save himself by escaping back to his land.
Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness, NY: W.W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1988.
Enotes, Heart of Darkness | Introduction http://www.enotes.com/darkness/ (01/12/2007)