Who is the principal character—Marlow or Kurtz in
Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Explain your view.
In What sense is Mr. Kurtz regarded as the central
figure in the novel Heart of Darkness?
What estimate of the character Of Mr. Kurtz do you
form from your reading of Heart of Darkness?
Ans. Mr. Kurtz is one of the two principal characters in Heart of
Darkness, the other being Marlow, the narrator of the story. The
portrayal Of Mr. Kurtz is one of Conrad’s greatest achievements in the
field of characterization and yet he remains a riddle, an elusive
a person whom we cannot understand fully.
When Marlow arrives at the Company/s Station, the chief
accountant says about Mr. Kurtz whom he will see at the Inner
Station. The accountant calls Mr. Kurtz a “remarkable man” and a
first-class agent of the company. Mr. Kurtz is able to collect as much
ivory for export as all the other agents of the company put together.
Speaking of the high potential or Mr. Kurtz, the account presumes
that one day Kurtz might rise to a very high position.
The Manager of the Company’s Station tells Marlow that Mr.
Kurtz is an exceptional man whose place at the Inner Station is
indispensable. Unfortunately, Mr. Kurtz falls ill and Marlow is
shocked at this information because he wanted to discuss some
important issues with Mr. Kurtz. Subsequently, Marlow collects more
information about Mr. Kurtz from the Brick-maker, the Russian and
the Manager at the Central Station.
Soon afterwards Marlow comes to know some more facts about
Mr. Kurtz and his way of life at the Inner Station of which he holds
the charge. A time comes when Mr. Kurtz wants to keep all the ivory
for himself instead of allowing the company to take it away from him.
But greed is only a small example of evil in this man. In certain other
respects, he is the embodiment of evil.
He begins to identify himselfwith the native savages and in fact, becomes one of them. He not onlyparticipates in their activities and customs but also presides over
their midnight dances which always end with “unspeakable rites”.
According to Marlow, Mr. Kurtz has become evil incarnate.
Consequently, on his deathbed, he is found in a terrible situation. He,
utters the words, “The horror! The horror!” These words sum up the
evil in Mr. Kurtz and show his horror at what might happen to him
after death when he goes to hell.
Mr. Kurtz represents the imperial exploitation of the backward
people by the white invaders. He stands for avarice, lust for power,
commercial mentality and hypocrisy of the white men who claim to
civilize the backward but actually, they are not willing to improve the
conditions of savage’s life.
To conclude, the main interest of the story lies in Marlow’s
meeting with Mr. Kurtz who is presented both as an extremely bad
person and good as well. Both Kurtz and Marlow are prominent
figures and both play significant roles in the story of Heart Of
Darkness. Kurtz is perfectly visualized from what is told of him by
Marlow. We never see him in action; we see him only dying, and yet
we know him well.
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