"But his soul was mad. Being alone in the wilderness, it had looked within itself and, by heavens I tell you, it had gone mad." (Conrad 66). This is a comment that Marlow made on his reflection about Kurtz after meeting him alone in the wilderness and the dark. It follows two months journey that they were to undergo in order to reach the Kurtz’s station. While in the station at midnight, Marlow is awakened by beating of drums and chanting that were coming from Kurtz’s followers in the forest. He suddenly realizes that Kurtz was not in the cabin and went out to look for him. Marlow locates Kurtz crawling along the path, and they started to converse. It is from this conversation that Marlow started reflecting about the character of Kurtz. Initially, Marlow only used to hear about Kurtz, but this time round he got an opportunity to meet with him face-to-face. For instance, Harlequin used to tell Marlow that he is not supposed to talk to Kurtz, but instead he supposed to listen to him because of his wit and experiences (Conrad 53). In another instance, Harlequin told Marlow that Kurtz has enlarged his mind, and he ought not to judge him the way he would do to an ordinary man (Conrad 66). Although Marlow does not agree with Harlequin devotion to Kurtz, he envies his ability to venture in the wilderness that had not been penetrated by any other European before. Kurtz would give an order, and all the natives would go back into the forest.
Meaning of the phrase
Analysis of the phrase
In the book, the theme of savagery is contrasted with civilization. Kurtz is the character who represents savagery while Marlow represents civilization. Savagery may be defined as the act of barbarity or cruelty that one portrays through thinking and the way of life. Kurtz is portrayed in his primitive nature since he has refused to de-evolve from his previous status. Kurtz shows how men would become if they remain in their intrinsic nature without encountering civilized and protective environment. Kurtz is greed for ivory and exploits black men in order to obtain it. Kurtz performs savagery acts such as placing human heads at the top of poles around his station house. These savagery acts can only occur in the ‘dark’ world where there is no any form of civilization. Marlow argued that ivory trade had changed Kurtz’s character as well as collection of ivory in the entire region.
Although Chinua Achebe criticized Conrad’s work and referred to him as a racist, the above passage helps to reveal the primitive nature of the people who were living in the Congo region by then. The character of Kurtz as portrayed in the above passage shows somebody who is brutal, primitive, and not civilized. His has gone mad; leaving alone in the wilderness, just in order to satisfy his personal needs. He had no regard for human life and could brutally kill those people who never supported his mission of the acquiring ivory. He also made sure that all natives were worshipping him, and those who were not doing so were forced to follow his line. Only uncivilized person could conduct the brutal acts he performed such as placing human heads at the top of poles around his station house.
Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. Ed. Armstrong Paul B. New York: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc., 2005. Print.