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Apocalypse Now And Heart Of Darkness

1546 words - 6 pages

The idea of intertextuality can be seen heavily in Apocalypse Now as it based on the story and ideals within Heart of Darkness. The characters of Apocalypse Now are direct references to characters in the novella, and through their actions and ideals, serve nearly the same role.
The first parallel we see between characters is that of Willard and Marlow. In the opening scene of the movie, Willard is complaining about wanting a mission and getting back into the war, stating “Every time I think I'm gonna wake up back in the jungle. When I was home after my first tour, it was worse. I'd wake up and there'd be nothing. I hardly said a word to my wife, until I said "yes" to a divorce. When I was here, I wanted to be there; when I was there, all I could think of was getting back into the jungle. I'm here a week now, waiting for a mission, getting softer; every minute I stay in this room, I get weaker, and every minute Charlie squats in the bush, he gets stronger. Each time I looked around, the walls moved in a little tighter.” (Apocalypse Now) Willard is being driven mad by his need to be involved in the war, to the point where it is affecting his home life. Simply being in his room waiting for a mission is making him become paranoid to an unhealthy extent in which he feels the need to become intoxicated and self destructive to cope. This obsession correlates with Marlow’s own obsession with work in Heart of Darkness. Like Willard, Marlow’s sanity also relies on his work. The first major break in his mental state we see is when he is unable to do work due to his steamer being damaged and not having the parts to repair it. Upon hearing the news that rivets necessary to repairing the steamer are on the way, the normal stoic Marlow bursts into dance “I don’t know why we behaved like lunatics. I put a finger to the side of my nose and nodded mysteriously. ‘Good for you!’ [The foreman] cried, snapper his fingers above his head, lifting one foot. I tried a jig. We capered on the
iron deck” (Conrad 43). Although the effects of his obsession are not as obvious of those of Willard, this outburst is a far cry from Marlow’s usual self, and ultimately shows how both characters are entirely dependent on their respective jobs to maintain their usual selves. Although the two use work as a coping device to remain sane, they both struggle with keeping their sanity throughout their respective storylines. Both men fight to overcome the force of the jungle that has driven many men, including Kurtz, completely insane. By the end of his journey, Willard is faced with the decision either kill Kurtz or let him live, his decision can be summed up by “Willard faces his own personality of whether or not to complete his soldierly mission of killing Kurtz or to abort it. If he completes the mission he is still civil, if he does not, the Vietnam jungle has conquered him. The first soldier that is sent to kill Kurtz did not kill Kurtz, but in fact became one of his followers.”...

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