Light and Dark in Apocalypse Now and Heart of Darkness Essay

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Light and Dark in Apocalypse Now and Heart of Darkness

In Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, Marlow chooses a brighter path than his counterpart in Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now, Capt. Willard. The two share in the duty of searching for and discovering Kurtz, as well as taking care of his memory, but their beliefs before encountering him place the characters at opposing ends of a theme. These opposing ends are light and dark, representing good and evil.

In the opening pages of Heart of Darkness, Marlow begins telling a tale of himself as nothing more than a sailor, who had a taste for adventure and saw the navigation of a river in such a distant and mysterious place as the Congo as a chance to find it. Capt. Willard
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There was those six that I know about for sure. Close enough to blow their last breath in my face. But this time it was an American and an officer. That wasn't suppose to make any difference to me, but it did. Shit...charging a man with murder in this place was like handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500. I took the mission. What the hell else was I gonna do? But I didn't know what I'd do when I found him."(AP) From this quote and the preceding scenes of the film, we can clearly see that Kurtz and Willard are thinking on much the same levels and have dealt with the same issues in their lives.

Marlow on the other hand has no idea about Kurtz, or any knowledge of the land he is about to visit, before he gets there. He is completely unaware of his "darkness." As the journey continues up the river though, Marlow shows signs of contempt for the native people and their "primitive" ways. The jungle is referred to as "darkness," as "chaos" and "a black and incomprehensible frenzy"(HOD 37). As he travels into the heart of the Congo, he feels like he is leaving society farther and farther behind him. When he encounters a white man who is dressed as though he is still in Europe, Marlow says he "respected" him. He says: " the great demoralization of the land he kept up his appearance. That's backbone. His starched collars and got-up shirt-fronts were achievements of character"(HOD 21). Marlow takes this man as a "sort of a vision,"
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