Transformation in Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now Essay

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Transformation in Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now

Since Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now was based on Joseph Conrad's novel, Heart of Darkness, it is possible to draw many parallels between the two works. Both can be interpreted as metaphors for a journey through the inner self, and each has its own particular message to convey. In many ways they also appear to have similarities to Arthurian Legend, in particular the quest for the holy grail, and other allegorical journey narratives. The sum of the experiences of the protagonists, Marlow in Heart of Darkness and Willard in Apocalypse Now, reveal to them how the horrors and effects of war or conquest, can lead some people to madness, while other persons may discover
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The initial goals of each protagonist becomes altered during the course of their journeys. From the outset of the novel, Marlow is depicted as being "not typical (Conrad p. 9)", he is a wandering type of person. It is portrayed as if Marlow does not have a 'home,' and it seems as if he had a "bond [to] the sea (Conrad p.1)." This may lead to an interpretation that he attempts to find out more about himself, and discover his inner character. The re-appearing image of the winding river resembles a journey from a wild uncivilized world, towards the light. In Heart of Darkness when Marlow finds out along the way that Kurtz, the manager of the Inner Station is gravely ill, Marlow turns his attention on reaching Kurtz in time to aid in his recovery. In Apocalypse Now, as Willard ventures with his crew through the Nung River, he witnesses atrocities committed against fellow humans. Although his mission at the beginning was clearly stated as an extermination, Willard takes along Kurtz's military dossier and analyzes Kurtz's remarkable military career. Willard develops an interest and apparent admiration for Kurtz. A striking similarity in both works is the fact that the antagonist Kurtz has managed to set up a corrupt enclave in which the natives revere Kurtz as their god-like leader.

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