Comparative Essay of Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now
The ties between Joseph Conrad's book, “Heart of Darkness” and Francis
Coppola's movie, “Apocalypse Now” are unmistakable. Apocalypse Now's correctness in
following the story line of the Heart of Darkness is amazing although the settings of each story are from completely different location and time periods. From the jungle of the Congo in Africa to the Nung river in Vietnam, Joseph Conrad's ideals are not lost. In both the book and the movie, the ideas of good and evil, whiteness, darkness, and racism are clear. Also, characterization in both the novel and the movie are very similar. Both The Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now examine the good and evil in human beings.
In “The Heart of Darkness”, Marlow speaks of Fresleven who was killed in a fight
with some natives. The argument between Fresleven and the natives was over some
chickens, and Fresleven felt he had been ripped off in the deal. Marlow describes
Fresleven as "…the gentlest, quietest creature that ever walked on two legs."(p. 13
Conrad) However, later in the same paragraph Marlow says,"…he probably felt the need
at last of asserting his self-respect in some way. Therefore he whacked the old nigger
mercilessly."(p. 13 Conrad) Soldiers in combat are forced to bring the evil within
themselves out every time they go into battle.
The scene in Apocalypse Now where Captain Willard first meets Lt. Colonel
Kilgore, show’s the power at which combat has in bringing out the dark side in humans.
The attitude the soldiers have towards their enemy in the scene shows how evil humans
can be. Kilgore demonstrates his dark side when he tosses the "death cards" on to the
bodies of the dead Vietcong without showing any remorse over the death of fellow
humans. The Vietcong were his enemies, but they were no less human. Another example
of the movie expressing good and evil is when General Corman says, "Because there's a
conflict in every human heart between the rational and the irrational, between good and
evil. The good does not always triumph. Sometimes the dark side overcomes what Lincoln called the better angels of our nature." This quote explains what General Corman
believes is the good and evil in every human and how the good is the rational thinking.
While the evil is an irrational thinking.
Traditional interpretations of light and darkness tend to associate light with
goodness and purity, and darkness with evil and corruption. Marlow describes his
interpretation of the darkness in his journey with these words, "True, by this time it was not a blank space any more...a place of darkness. But there was in it one river especially, a mighty big river... resembling an immense snake uncoiled, with its head in the sea, its body at rest curving afar over a vast country, and its tail lost in the depths of the land...the snake had charmed me." (p. 11) However, in Heart of Darkness, the definitions of...