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
In the first parts of the book most of the characters Marlow meets tell him all good things about Kurtz. When Marlow inquires about who Kurtz is he is told by the chief account of the company that Kurtz is, "a first class agent...he is a very remarkable person." (p. 33). Another person tells Marlow that Kurtz
At the beginning of the journey, Kurtz was a good man who believed in bringing civilization to Africa. You see some of Kurtz’s good intentions in a lot of his writings. When Marlow was reading them, he said, "’…He began with the argument that we whites, from the point of development we had arrived at, ‘must necessarily appear to them (savages) in the
An interpretation of Marlow's changing feelings towards Kurtz is that he ends up being disgusted and
The protagonist Marlow believes that: “the mind of man is capable of anything-because everything is in it, all the past as well as all the future” (109). The basis of Heart of Darkness is Marlow's physical journey up the congo river to meet Kurtz. The main character Marlow goes through many physical and psycological changes from the beginning to the end of the story. In the beginning, Marlow is fairly innocent as he goes up the river, he gets closer and closer to Kurtz, and he moves closer and closer he learns more and more about the hearts of men and the darkness. When he eventually reaches Kurtz, Marlow's perception is obstructed and he physically and psychologically, does not know where he is.
From his first mention in the novel--“[Mr. Kurtz] is a very remarkable person”--it is made clear to readers that Kurtz is no ordinary member of the Company. Before narrator Marlow actually encounters this man, he is described as “exceptional”, “of the greatest importance to the Company”, and a “universal genius”. Readers learn that Kurtz came to Africa “equipped with moral ideas” and has brought in an unprecedented amount of ivory, which is the primary goal of the Company. Overall, Kurtz is a prodigy, expected to move up the Company hierarchy quickly, and becomes a sort of obsession for Marlow. Despite this, higher-ups in the Company seem to fear, and
A foil is a minor character that helps the audience better understand a major character. A foil may exist as a comparison character, with similarities between the two, as well as differences that bring to light an important contrast between the foil and the main character. A foil may also just be someone for the main character to talk to, so we can know and understand their thoughts and feelings. Foils help us understand the obvious as well as the arcane. In the classic tragedy Hamlet, we see William Shakespeare employ foils to illustrate both examples. They become important literary tools that help the reader rationalize the concurrent theme of the play -
Kurtz’s lack of restraint and hunger for ivory consumes not only his soul but drains all of his physical existence. Upon seeing him, Marlow states, “I could see the cage of his ribs all astir, the bones of his arm waving (126)”. Conrad focuses on the physical features of Kurtz to display the madness that has consumed him. However, though Kurtz’s body is deteriorating, Kurtz’s mind continues to thrive. Conrad shows this in Marlow’s shock of witnessing a flame of passion that remains in Kurtz’s eyes as he converses without signs of exhaustion (126). Conrad continues to describe Kurtz as a shadow composed of tranquility and satisfaction. Conrad’s incorporation of this detail signifies the evil and greed that consumes Kurtz and is reflected through his physique. However, the power of Kurtz’s presence is personified through the action of his words. As the strength in his voice captures Marlow’s attention, it merely reflects his influence upon his followers. The power reflected through his voice displayed his confidence as well as his position as a leader for the natives. Hi demeanor displays an air of arrogance that makes others feel less equal to him. Those who follow him fear him, but also continue to respect him.
At the end of his journey he realized the reason that everyone who went on this expedition was trying to make their fortune and that is how Kurtz eventually died. His “appetite for more ivory had got the better” of him. No matter what the cost to himself and the people around him, he was going to be the best and get the most money. His selfishness eventually caused his death when the manager downstream would not send food because he hoarded all of the ivory all to himself. Marlow knew that Kurtz was very serious about his job when he saw “heads on the stakes” in front of his house. Which could have been a warning to other people who try to come get his ivory. But the interesting part was most of the heads are faced toward his house. Kurtz wanted attention and loved to have power. These heads could be there to adore him just like the natives when he was with them. Kurtz search for power and wealth left in its wake death and destruction, showing that humanities quest for wealth leads to destruction.
The final thing Kurtz had an affect on was the other characters development; specifically Marlow’s. Marlow spent his journey on the Congo listening to so many stories about Kurtz that he becomes obsessed with meeting him. At one point in the story, Marlow finds out there is a possibility that Kurtz is dead and he admits that, “For the moment that was the dominant thought. There was a sense of extreme disappointment, as though I had found out I had been striving after something altogether without a substance” (41). When Marlow finally meets Kurtz he is a little disappointed. He finds out that Kurtz actually isn’t as amazing as he expected. Marlow is thrown a back but doesn’t give up complete hope. When Kurtz dies, and says his final words, Marlow realizes that
Marlow out of curiosity wanted to explore, he expected more. He goes off on this curiosity, adventure to meet a man with a great reputation named Kurtz. Marlow’s trip was not at all easy and timely. At one point he had to wait for several months to repair his steamboat, before he could continue his journey. This long period of time taken away from Marlow’s journey, made him more eager to meet Kurtz. Continuing his trip to Kurtz, Marlow and the others on the boat were fired at from the outskirts of the forest. Upon arrival, though, they are greeted and warned of Kurtz abnormal behaviors. The independence for Kurtz is now shown. The fact that Kurtz has put himself in the position to rule over the natives has caused widespread mayhem. In the search for ivory Kurtz went on brutal raids and even went to the extent to put severed heads on the fencing around the station. His independence lead to the fate of others and to his own fate eventually. This trip effects Marlow’s morals to do good deeds and know right from wrong. Prior to leaving, Marlow had a good foundation and knew clearly how to distinguish the two. While on his trip the reader can tell that this is becoming harder and harder. Kurtz is seen to do all these wrong deeds, because he is the God to the natives. Yet, the native woman, that was his lover had complete influence over Kurtz. At the end of the story when Marlow is speaking with Kurtz’s fiancé, he
The film also depicts the character of Kurtz in a very different light. Conrad builds up the appearance of Kurtz so much that his first scene is intentionally anti-climactic. He is discovered to be an ailing, elderly gentlemen, malnourished and on the verge of death. Marlow himself is simultaneously impressed with and disappointed by Kurtz. He enjoys listening to the old man’s philosophies, but he is let down by Kurtz’s lack of realistic thinking. He has clearly lost his mind, and with it, some of his credibility and mysticism.
Like Marlow, Kurtz began his employment with the ivory company with noble intentions: he wants to create a better way of life for the natives. However, because of extreme hardships placed upon him by the manager, Kurtz becomes the "dark" half of the soul: he symbolizes what Marlow may have become if placed in Kurtz' position.
Even from the beginning, Kurtz was made out to be an icon, an idol. To Marlow, he was the only thing that made sense in the company, on a journey, in a wilderness full of confusion. The
Marlow's journey leads him in an urgent search for Kurtz, the one man who can provide him with the truth about himself. Like Marlow, Kurtz came to the Congo in hopes to bring "light" and civilization to a backwards society. He is a highly-educated, refined gentlemen; yet, in the end, the brutal nature of the Congo forces him to resort to the life of a murderer and pilferer. The name Kurtz itself has symbolic meaning. "The physical shortness in Kurtz implies a shortness of character and spirit" (Heart of Darkness: A systematic evaluation). Marlow and Kurtz both symbolize the two conditions of human nature. "Kurtz represents what man could become if left to his own intrinsic devices outside protective society. Marlow represents a pure untainted civilized soul who has not been drawn to savagery by a dark, alienated jungle." (Heart of Darkness: A systematic evaluation). When the two come face to face, each man sees a reflection of what he might have become in the other. In Kurtz, Marlow sees the potential
Kurtz, more than anyone, was a signal of human potential to Marlow, the 'universal genius', the 'extraordinary man' found the limits of his potential much more easily in his isolation: "Believe me or not, his intelligence was perfectly clear - concentrated, it is true, upon himself with a horrible intensity, yet clear..."(Conrad 65). Kurtz's abilities had nothing to work on