Heart Of Darkness
Inherent inside every human soul is a savage evil side that remains repressed by
society. Often this evil side breaks out during times of isolation from our
culture, and whenever one culture confronts another. History is loaded with
examples of atrocities that have occurred when one culture comes into contact
with another. Whenever fundamentally different cultures meet, there is often a
fear of contamination and loss of self that leads us to discover more about our
true selves, often causing perceived madness by those who have yet to discover.

The Puritans left Europe in hopes of finding a new world to welcome them and
their beliefs. What they found was a vast new world, loaded with Indian cultures
new to them. This overwhelming cultural interaction caused some Puritans to go
mad and try to purge themselves of a perceived evil. This came to be known as
the Salem witch trials. During World War II, Germany made an attempt to overrun

Europe. What happened when the Nazis came into power and persecuted the Jews in

Germany, Austria and Poland is well known as the Holocaust. Here, human’s evil
side provides one of the scariest occurrences of this century. Adolf Hitler and
his Nazi counterparts conducted raids of the ghettos to locate and often
exterminate any Jews they found. Although Jews are the most widely known victims
of the Holocaust, they were not the only targets. When the war ended, 6 million

Jews, Slavs, Gypsies, homosexuals, Jehovah\'s Witnesses, Communists, and others
targeted by the Nazis, had died in the Holocaust. Most of these deaths occurred
in gas chambers and mass shootings. This gruesome attack was motivated mainly by
the fear of cultural intermixing which would impurify the "Master

Race." Joseph Conrad’s book, The Heart of Darkness and Francis

Coppola’s movie, Apocalypse Now are both stories about Man’s journey into
his self, and the discoveries to be made there. They are also about Man
confronting his fears of failure, insanity, death, and cultural contamination.

During Marlow’s mission to find Kurtz, he is also trying to find himself. He,
like Kurtz had good intentions upon entering the Congo. Conrad tries to show us
that Marlow is what Kurtz had been, and Kurtz is what Marlow could become. Every
human has a little of Marlow and Kurtz in them. Marlow says about himself,
"I was getting savage (Conrad)," meaning that he was becoming more
like Kurtz. Along the trip into the wilderness, they discover their true selves
through contact with savage natives. As Marlow ventures further up the Congo, he
feels like he is traveling back through time. He sees the unsettled wilderness
and can feel the darkness of it’s solitude. Marlow comes across simpler
cannibalistic cultures along the banks. The deeper into the jungle he goes, the
more regressive the inhabitants seem. Kurtz had lived in the Congo, and was
separated from his own culture for quite some time. He had once been considered
an honorable man, but the jungle changed him greatly. Here, secluded from the
rest of his own society, he discovered his evil side and became corrupted by his
power and solitude. Marlow tells us about the Ivory that Kurtz kept as his own,
and that he had no restraint, and was " a tree swayed by the wind (Conrad,

209)." Marlow mentions the human heads displayed on posts that "showed
that Mr. Kurtz lacked restraint in the gratification of his various lusts
(Conrad, 220)." Conrad also tells us "his... nerves went wrong, and
caused him to preside at certain midnight dances ending with unspeakable rights,
which... were offered up to him (Conrad, 208)," meaning that Kurtz went
insane and allowed himself to be worshipped as a god. It appears that while

Kurtz had been isolated from his culture, he had become corrupted by this
violent native culture, and allowed his evil side to control him. Marlow
realizes that only very near the time of death, does a person grasp the big
picture. He describes Kurtz’s last moments "as though a veil had been
rent (Conrad, 239)." Kurtz’s last "supreme moment of complete
knowledge (Conrad, 239)," showed him how horrible the human soul really can
be. Marlow can only speculate as to what Kurtz saw that caused him to exclaim
"The horror! The horror," but later adds that "Since I peeped
over the edge myself, I understand better the meaning of his stare... it was
wide enough to embrace the whole universe, piercing enough to penetrate all the
hearts that beat in the darkness... he had summed up, he had judged (Conrad,

241)." Marlow guesses that Kurtz