Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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Marlow and the Mariner in Heart of Darkness and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner are both morally ambiguous characters with many similarities. Each embarks on a great journey in which their character is tested numerous times. Their trials lead to many profound revelations about humanity, which are explored in ways only possible because of their hazy morality. At the start of their adventures, both Marlow and the Mariner were only sailors looking for adventure and fortune. The motivations for their actions were simple; Marlow was “lost in all the glories of exploration” (pg. 13), and the Mariner was only seeking to avoid a storm. But each would be changed in profound ways by their journeys, in great part due to their ambiguous…show more content…
His decision to continue no matter what caused him to wait quite a while for the rivets necessary to begin his journey down the river and the helmsman to die in the barrage of the natives before ever reaching Kurtz. But it was the same traits that allowed him to analyze the true nature of the lawless environment and of the people in it, as in his “suspicion of” the natives’ “not being inhuman” (pg. 37). The adventures of Marlow and the Mariner ended with profound revelations. After he unconsciously blessed the snakes, he was returned to his homeland by a higher power. But he had “penance more” (l. 410) to do for his actions. Upon returning, he found himself compelled to tell his story to those that needed to hear it, and to seek out new recipients of his story through long travels, teaching them all to respect all the creatures of the Earth. Upon finding Kurtz, Marlow was able to see the true significance of Kurtz’s transformation, being free from the hypocrisy of his crewmates. Kurtz, too, is tinged with moral ambiguity; he began as an upstanding, educated citizen, but even he couldn’t resist the corruption of an environment without any restrictions on his actions. His lust for power and ivory consumed him, transforming him into a brutal, greedy man without respect for any kind of code. He thought of himself as a god. But

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