Realization of Inner Evil in Heart of Darkness
It was said by Thomas Moser that "in order to truly be alive one must recognize the truth, the darkness, the evil and the death within" (Moser, 156). Joseph Conrad's novel, Heart of Darkness, goes very far to explain and prove this statement. During the novel the reader takes part in a spiritual and inner journey through Africa and the mind of the protagonist, Marlow. As a consequence of his newly gained knowledge and experience he is able to exhibit his understanding of life and recount his journey into Africa. The Heart of Darkness explores the idea of self-discovery and the realization of inner evil through the characters Kurtz and Marlow and through the exploration of the dark continent of Africa.
Throughout the novel the reader only comes into contact with Kurtz through Marlow and the comments of other minor characters. Kurtz is a first class agent employed at an ivory station in the center of Africa. Due to his great ability to steal and kill mercilessly he is considered to be the best at obtaining ivory. Upon meeting Kurtz, Marlow considers him to be a remarkable man because Kurtz is aware of the darkness and evil in his own life and in the world. He also knows the "depth to which man is capable of sinking" (Dowden, 159). Through living in the core of Africa Kurtz has discovered the truth about himself. He is aware of evil and goodness, but lacks restraint and therefore, chooses evil.
Kurtz is, for the most part, alone in the wilderness, however, he is not alone in his wickedness. Kurtz's inner evil spreads outward into Africa making it the dark place that it becomes during the novel. The local people have become corrupt due to Kurtz's position of power and control. His own workers have become hollow and dark while working along side him. Further more, the company manager, who personally works with him, gains a coarse spirit and becomes jealous and crude.
Near the end of the novel Kurtz, who has acted as Marlow's teacher, dies. His dying body can be seen as the very definition of evil in the world and in the human heart. Looking at the dying body, Marlow can see pride, terror, power, despair, desire, temptation and evil. Kurtz then sums up his whole existence by breathing the words, "The Horror! The Horror!" (Conrad, 112). In saying those last words Kurtz is confirming his realization of his own inner evil. To Marlow this realization is in itself a victory for Kurtz. The departure of Kurtz leaves Marlow to "grope blindly and alone through the darkness of his existence" (Dowden, 159).
Marlow's journey of self discovery begins with his assignment to travel into the heart of Africa in order to find Kurtz. As Marlow travels down the nameless river, his realization and education about himself and Kurtz slowly begins. On the river he is confronted by a wide variety of people who, to Marlow, seem dark and uncivilized. He even refers to the pilgrims as savages and hollow...