Both Marlow and Kurtz are prominent characters in the story “Heart of Darkness”, but they have different roles. Marlow can be considered the traditional hero, while Kurtz is often referred to as the anti-hero. Both are protagonists, however, protagonist and hero may not always be the same. The question arises, does a person’s background really matter in determining their hero status?
In this paper, I will demonstrate that both Kurtz and Marlow possess qualities that define their heroism. Initially, Marlow is portrayed as an ordinary individual striving to sustain himself. Conrad presents him as philosophical, independent-minded, and inherently doubtful of others. Furthermore, Marlow excels in the art of narrative, captivating his audience with his eloquent storytelling. Despite sharing certain biases with his European counterparts, Marlow’s extensive travels and encounters with white individuals have cultivated a sense of skepticism towards imperialism.
His original plans were to make money, but his journey turns into something much more. His expedition becomes a quest to discover and rescue Kurtz while also seeking to understand the people who were judged unfairly. Marlow is likened to a god, mirroring the actions of Buddha. He is elevated to the status of a spiritual being, fulfilling his duty to enlighten and educate others. Kurtz, the chief of the Inner Station, is the objective of Marlow’s quest. Kurtz possesses numerous skills, including charm and leadership abilities.
Kutz is a man of great understanding and his writings exhibit eloquence that obscures a terrifying message. He is exceptionally talented, intelligent, and is unconcerned about others’ opinions of him. Kutz’s abilities and personality define him as a genuine hero. Even though Marlow finds him enigmatic, Kutz undeniably wields a significant influence over those around him. One reason for this is his ability to manipulate people through his words. For instance, he easily won over the Russian trader by demonstrating his extensive knowledge on various subjects.
Despite experiencing a downturn, Kurtz encounters harsher judgment than the average person. This contributes to his ability to communicate in various manners. His downfall appears to stem from his disregard for the overly critical guidelines that dictate European colonial behavior: Kurtz has distanced himself from societal norms by excessively mingling with the natives and overlooking outward appearances. While Kurtz achieves great success, he also indulges in his own sinister cravings, resulting in his isolation from his fellow white individuals.
To the native Africans, Kurtz is revered as a deity, albeit with repercussions. Aware of the imminent arrival of white men to take Kurtz away, the indigenous people launched attacks against them along the river, aiming to prevent Kurtz from departing. Interestingly, the worshipped “god” finds himself a captive amongst his own followers. Although he possesses the authority to order mass executions for those who defy him, he is unable to escape as a free individual. Remarkably, Kurtz stands at a towering height of seven feet and ironically bears a name that signifies “short” in Greek.
All Rights Reserved. “Benefits of Purchase” Joesph Conrad Heart Of Darkness 123HelpMe.com, 2000-2012. Web. 26 Niv. 2021.
Shmoop University.”Charlie Maarlow.”Shmoop. Shmoop We Speak Student, 2012. Web. 30 Nov. 2012.