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Published: 24-09-2019

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Who Is Kurtz in the “Heart of Darkness”and What Specifics of Character He has

In Joseph Conrad’s classic novella, Heart of Darkness, the identity of Kurtz is unknown for most of the story. For the majority of the story, Marlow’s image of Kurtz is primarily based solely on hearsay from other Europeans. He is a seemingly extraordinary man who wants to civilize the natives of the region. As soon as he is finally introduced to Kurtz, Marlow is surprised by his actions. Marlow finds him to be ill, possibly insane, and not at all as he anticipated. The accounts given later by these who knew Kurtz all look to paint a distinct picture of him, unknown to Marlow. This brings into question the actual identity of Kurtz. The accounts made by those who knew him could be correct or simply constructs of their own delusional minds. As an alternative, possibly the “darkness” of the Congo changed the really essence of Kurtz although he was functioning there. There need to be a purpose for the discrepancies between the legend of Kurtz and the actual man himself.

Kurtz undoubtedly impacted different folks in distinct methods. The Russian trader that Marlow meets holds Kurtz in high regard. He says that Kurtz’s grandiose concepts have “enlarged his mind” (Conrad p. 48). When Kurtz later confides in Marlow, his plans to turn out to be well-known and wealthy appear immature and ludicrous. This could be due to variations in the perception of the trader and Marlow. What a single man thinks is genius, an additional could believe is ridiculous. Conrad may be commenting on human perceptions in this case. There are other accounts of Kurtz that also go radically against the image that is shown to the readers.

Conrad reveals little about Kurtz’s character by means of the action in the book. Instead, his function is a series of images constructed by other folks. Kurtz’s cousin tells Marlow that Kurtz was a excellent musician and humanitarian and concludes that he was just an all about genius. The Belgian journalist delivers another image of Kurtz. To him, Kurtz was a brilliant politician and leader of men. Everyone seems to have taken something diverse from Kurtz and he has impacted all of their lives differently. Kurtz’s Intended saw him as a loving, devoted, humanitarian and all about guru. She naturally had no concept that he was having an affair with a native woman in Africa. The Intended’s perception of Kurtz is flawed, but is this her fault or did Kurtz project onto her the image of himself he wanted her to see? Marlow even supports the Intended’s fallacious memory of Kurtz by telling her that his dying words have been her name. It is not clear why Marlow did this, but perhaps he did this in order to shield the reputation and memory of Kurtz. Whatever the case, it seems that all these people hold diverse memories of Kurtz. This is either due to variations in perception or else Kurtz was a master at giving individuals what they wanted or necessary to see. It is intriguing that every particular person believed they knew Kurtz so well. His Intended exclaimed, “I knew him the best” (Conrad p. 73). It appears that perhaps none of them in fact knew him. He affected all distinct folks simply because he represents to each person what they would like to see in themselves. It is also feasible that Kurtz changed although he was functioning in the Congo.

The nature of the jungle itself must have played a part in changing the mentality of Kurtz. Marlow seemed to lose his sensitivity although on the river. There is no indication that Marlow was an insensitive man, but rather curious and caring. The purpose he wanted to go to the Congo is to discover the white regions of the map of Africa. It is surprising, therefore, that when his helmsman gets killed by some natives, he just brushes him aside. He quickly adjustments his socks and footwear and as an alternative of lamenting the death, he is upset that he lost a new pair of footwear. Possibly the darkness of the jungle has a similar influence on all folks. Kurtz’s long keep in the jungle was much more than sufficient time for him to lose the senses he may have once had.

Freud’s analysis of the human psyche attempts to clarify the mentality of Kurtz. Freud says that the ‘id’ is the part of the unconscious that humans are born with it serves to manage the desires we are born with. The ‘ego’ develops out of the ‘id’ to attempt to rationalize these innate desires. The ‘superego,’ Freud explains, controls the ‘ego’ and develops by means of external controls such as social conscience. Therefore, the ‘superego’ of men and women who grow up in distinct societies would not be the identical since of diverse external forces that shaped their ‘superego.’ This should account for the vast differences amongst the natives of the Congo and the Europeans who are trying to “civilize” them. Freud tends to think that the ‘superego’ is formed by adulthood and can't be changed. Freud could be wrong. Kurtz has apparently gone crazy out in the “darkness” of Africa. He posts the heads of rebels on spikes outside his workplace and has somehow, it is not stated how, convinced the native tribes to worship him as if he is a god. This implies he is not living by European requirements or abiding by his European bred ‘superego.’ Kurtz’s European ‘superego’ would not have benefited him in the jungle, even though. He possibly lost his former ‘superego’ and adapted himself to his new surroundings. Probably Kurtz has even entirely overcome his ‘superego.’ Freud may possibly or could not agree that this is possible. The darkness in Heart of Darkness could the ‘id’ without having the ‘superego’ to control it, therefore letting all innate, animalistic desires surface. (Freud pp. 12-17)

It is difficult to distinguish how Kurtz, who appears so insular and isolated from the rest of society, was able to connect with so many men and women. Possibly the explanation is due to the fact that he did not actually let anyone get to know him truly. He let people see what they wanted to. Those folks therefore utilized what they knew about Kurtz for their personal use and developed an image of him that might or may have not been correct. For the Intended, Kurtz was an object of affection and an individual to care for her. For the Russian trader, he was an inspiration. Marlow somewhat located his purpose by means of his short partnership with Kurtz. He was intrigued by what he heard about Kurtz and that was what helped him get via the oppression of the Congo. Kurtz was an option to the emptiness and laziness of the other Europeans that Marlow met. Kurtz got his job completed. He located a lot more ivory than each other manager combined. He was open about his techniques also: he took ivory from other individuals by force. He used suppression and extermination to get what he wanted and he had no qualms about admitting it. Kurtz was open about his tactics, but this is what he needed the natives in the location to see in order for them to worry him. Kurtz did not get ivory by getting nice to folks. This is just another instance of Kurtz redefining himself to match an image that is valuable to him or to other people.

Kurtz played a considerable function in Marlow’s life in spite of the fact that he barely knew him. Marlow ponders the concept that he has no role in the globe. After Kurtz’s death, he is trusted with the part of carrying on his concepts and legacy. Nonetheless, Marlow realizes that if he died, he would have nothing at all to say. Kurtz, on the other hand, “had something to say. He stated it” (Conrad p. 70). By continuing Kurtz’s legacy, however, Marlow has located a purpose. His objective is to inform the story about Kurtz to these who will appreciate it. Kurtz for that reason gave Marlow’s life goal, and in performing so has impacted yet yet another person.

The fact that Kurtz appears to have so several various traits all through the story brings into query his true persona. Who was Kurtz? He could be a single of a quantity of diverse characters and it is practically impossible to distinguish in which environments he was being correct to his nature. Possibly he went crazy whilst in the jungle and replaced his European designed ‘superego’ with a single that would profit him much better in the Congo. Kurtz could have had the power to exude different elements of his character to various people. In a sense, he was able to show individuals the element of his character that they wanted to see. The story is unclear and reveals tiny about Kurtz other than by way of stories told by folks who supposedly knew him. Conrad appears to be making a point about the nature of societies and human interactions: that we may possibly never really be capable to know someone else.
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