Corrupt Society in Heart of Darkness
Melinda Barton '93, English 32 (1990)
To marry his love and transcend the difference in social class, Kurtz goes to Africa to make money. In this situation, the reader recognizes a similarity with Dicken's character Pip who also tried to advance himself for the sake of his love. Just as it was not fully Pip's desire for wealth and power, neither is it Kurtz's but instead an idea emerging from their societies which dictates the need for money and status in a social class. After arriving at the Intended's house, Marlowe describes a vision, "a shadow insatiable of splendid appearances, of frightful realities; a shadow darker than the shadow of the night, and draped nobly in the folds of a gorgeous eloquence... It was a moment of triumph for the wilderness, an invading and vengeful rush"(Norton, p. 1877). As he enters the house, Kurtz floats with him, a reminder that the wilderness won. The wilderness only appeared to embody the darkness because it did not give into the corrupt elements of society. From this view, society sent Kurtz to his fate, emphasizing that its limitations represented the darkness in man's heart. At the end, Marlowe's lie to the Intended about Kurtz's last words protects her but shows his corruption to reinforce the point. At the same time, Conrad has shown the weakness of women in their inability to grasp a situation. Although Conrad comments generally on human nature, Marlowe gives women little credit to understand.
( To Heart of Darkness OV)