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Marlow's Lies Essay

827 words - 4 pages

Marlow’s Dark Lie
In the novel, Heart of Darkness, written by Joseph Conrad, Marlow lies to Kurtz’s fiancée at the end of the story when she asks him to repeat his last words to which he responds that his last word was her name. Kurtz’s fiancée, also referred to as the Intended, was comforted by his response and wept in triumph; however, she believed in an illusion because she never knew what Kurtz became in Africa. The author uses character analysis, language, and dark imagery to convey Marlow’s pity for a single glint of light in the Intended’s house of sorrow by lying to her about Kurtz’s last words before passing away.
Conrad finishes off the story by bluntly contradicting Marlow’s personality to demonstrate the two extremes of human nature. While aboard the Nellie, Marlow tells his audience that he hates lies because they “appal” him (Conrad 36). However, at the end of the novel, Marlow accepts falsehood as salvation when he lies to the Intended about Kurtz’s last words because the truth would have broken her heart. Marlow judges the situation and realizes that a lie is better to give the desperate Intended than the truth. Moreover, Marlow justifies his lie by mentioning that it “would have been too dark—too dark altogether” to tell the Intended the true nature of Kurtz’s death (Conrad 101). This proves that Marlow struggled in the realm of human values because he preferred that fate would have permitted him to tell the truth because he hates lies. His sympathy for the Intended blinds him and allows his sentiments to obscure his dedication to the truth. Conrad’s characterization of Marlow presents the two extremes that can exist within the human kind and shows that both of these are reality after all.
Conrad uses dark imagery to portray the Intended’s sorrow at the loss of her love when Marlow visits her which results in his compassion to conceal the truth about Kurtz. When Marlow visits the Intended, he notices the “cold and monumental whiteness” of the fireplace and believes that he has “blundered into a place of cruel and absurd mysteries” (Conrad 98). This shows that Marlow hoped to surrender the Intended to the memory of Kurtz, instead, she maneuvers him into telling her a lie. The lie is anticipated because the darkness that was invading the Intended’s home means evil...

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