The Necessary Lie in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness Essay

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The Necessary Lie in Heart of Darkness In his narrative, Marlow declares, "You know I hate, detest, and can't bear a lie, not because I am straighter than the rest of us, but simply because it appalls me. There is a taint of death, a flavour of mortality in lies, - which is exactly what I hate and detest in the world - what I want to forget" (Longman 2210). In spite of these strong words, he lies to Kurtz's "Intended" when he visits her and tells her, "The last word he pronounced was - your name" (Longman 2246). Marlow's words, spoken in Part I to the audience, seem to contradict his words spoken in Part III to the Intended. Upon closer examination however, it is clear that it was keeping to his beliefs that caused Marlow to lie to…show more content…
Some confounded fact we men have been living contentedly with ever since the day of creation would start up and knock the whole thing over" (Longman 2199). It is clear from this statement that Marlow believes women simply cannot handle the cold hard reality of the world. Men, however, are well aware of these realities and therefore must protect women from the truth so as not to shatter the beauty of a woman's world. This is by today's standards silly and chauvinistic, but at the time it was a kind and chivalrous thought. Although Marlow was making direct reference to his Aunt in this passage, he does not limit the thought to his Aunt only, but uses the term 'women', which encompasses all women. He carries this kind and chivalrous thought with him when he visits Kurtz's Intended, and with it in mind cannot bring himself to shatter her beautiful fantasy world by telling her the truth of Kurtz's last words. In his own declaration Marlow claims there is a taint of death in lies. If he had been completely truthful with the Intended and told her Kurtz's actual last words, "The horror, the horror" (Longman 2240), he would have given her more than a taint of death. He would have shared with her some of the mental images his imagination had spawned since he heard those final words. He would have given her a 'flavour of mortality', which he claims to hate and detest in the world. Hate and detest are very powerful words which would
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