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Marlow and Kurtz: The Character Foils from In Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Decent Essays
Many characters have foils. A foil is a character that opposes another character, quite often the protagonist. Character foils are similar to the main character in some ways but often have one key difference. Sometimes, at some point the foils develop traits characteristic to the other. Often times, there is a factor, whether it be physical or psychological, which aids in the apparentness of the foils. In Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, Marlow and Kurtz represent foils driven by the wilderness. In Heart of Darkness, Marlow and Kurtz have many similarities. Perhaps the most apparent and literal similarity is the likeness of their journeys. Both men journey farther and farther into the African jungle. Kurtz, however, is driven to…show more content…
This is evidenced by his participation in untold rituals and other such events. After finding out that a native attack on their ship was in order to keep Kurtz there Marlow requests to speak with Kurtz. His harlequin assistant simply replies, “You do not talk with that man- you listen to him” (Conrad 53). The natives obviously do not want Kurtz to leave. The natives do not look up to most of the white men in this manner, especially not Mr. Marlow. There are essentially very few differences between Marlow and Kurtz. A main and apparent difference between the two men is what they love. It is evident to all that Kurtz feels a deep affection towards ivory. An affection even more so than for his fiancée. Marlow describes is as, “The wilderness…had caressed him…it had taken him, loved him, embraced him, got into his veins, consumed his flush, and sealed his soul to its own..” (Conrad 48). Marlow, on the other hand has an undying love of adventure and exploration. There is more than just that way do these two men differ from each other. At some point along his journey, Marlow finds himself idolizing and obsessing over Kurtz, just as the natives do. What is it about Kurtz that makes him so enchanting? The wilderness is the cause of most all of the problems. The wilderness is what drove Kurtz to insanity and almost did the same to Marlow. The wilderness has a captivating sense about it. Fortunately for Marlow, he was able to
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