Heart of Darkness why does Marlow Hate Lying
How it works
The novel Heart of Darkness is about a man named Marlow’s and he tells his story to his friends. His story was about his experiences from when he was a novice seaman. His journey took place in Africa and his mission was to retrieve a man named Kurtz from Africa and bring him home. During the end of the journey Kurtz dies and his last words were “The horror! The Horror!”, later when Marlow meets Kurtz intended he lies to her and tells her that Kurtz’s last words were his intended’s name. The question then becomes, why did Marlow lie to Kurt’s intended? To understand the root of this problem we need to see the world that Marlow lives in.
He lives in a world where men are able to acquire anything they can get their hands on (fame, women, money, etc.). When Marlow heard about Kurtz’s exploits in the ivory trade, Marlow idolized Kurtz and admired him. Upon seeing Kurtz in person, Marlows views on Kurtz changed. Upon entering the camp where Kurtz was stationed at Marlow saw decapitated heads around the area. He was later informed by the Russian trader that the heads were people who tried to go against Kurtz’s rule and displayed to instill fear to the others. On actually meeting the man Marlow’s image of Kurtz shattered and he saw that Kurtz was not the ideal man he once saw. This image change may be one of the reasons that Marlow lies to Kurtz’s intended.
How it works
As seen though out the text women are seen as unimportant characters. Women are seen as unimportant due to the fact that none of the women in the story have names. Since this story is told from the perspective of Marlow, that mean that the names of women are not worth mentioning. This idea is not uncommon during this era as women are only seen as slaves to men. Men see women as “unintelligent” and “uninformed” and this reasoning applies to Marlow. This shows more reason why Marlow lies to Kurtz’s intended.
From the what we know about Kurt’s intended she is a beautiful, attractive woman that any man would want to take he as their wife. According to the men of this era she is “unintelligent” and does not know how the world works. By the same reasoning she doesn’t know Kurtz or imperialism all that well and is naive to anything else outside her society. This is seen as she is extremely devoted for Kurtz and loves him without knowing his true personality. She only gets her information about Kurtz through his exploits in the ivory trading. For this reason is Kurtz and other men should protect women from the unknown world and let them live in their safe world that they know. The lie that Marlow tells Kurtz’s intended is to protect her from the unknown that is the real Kurtz. Marlow felt the need to keep Kurtz’s intended unharmed from the harsh reality , since they can not take it as she is a woman.
By lying to Kurtz’s intended Marlow protects the image of Kurtz that she has and keeps her safe from harm. Another way to see this is that Marlow is not only lying to protect Kurtz but also lying to prevent her from seeing his mistakes. Since men are the one to protect the women from all harm, the men can not be seen making mistakes as that will harm the protective world that women have. Kurtz does not tell his intended about his journeysthrough Africa in order to protect her from the harshness that is the unknown. Marlow protects Kurtz image by telling her that he was a good man, even in death in order to protect her from the outside world. Kurt’s intended completely believes in Marlow and does not distrust him at all due to the fact that women have to depend on men at all times. This novel portrays that all women are dependent on men to protect them from the harmful unknown. This shows discrimination between genders and this is not uncommon during the era that this novel was written.
Kurtz uses violence and terror to get to his position in Africa, but no one outside Africa knows this and only sees him in a good light. Africa changes Kurtz to being a kind and gentle man to being a savage beast that rules over the ivory trade. This shows that the darkness in Africa is swallowing up good men and making them reveal their true colors. While Kurtz’s intended thinks about him from her room about how dreamy he is, Marlow knows Kurtz’s true colors and siliently mocks her. When she mentions that she know Kurtz the best, Marlow inner turnmoil screams at her ignorance to Kurtz’s true nature. Marlow wants to tell Kurt’s intended about Kurtz’s true nature, but he can not as she has to be shielded from all harm and lets her continue to praise Kurtz.
All of these factors lead to Marlow lying to Kurtz’s intended. Marlow keeps Kurtz’s last words to himself as a reminder what type of person Kurtz was. The meaning of Kurtz’s last words is something to look at as the words “The Horror! The Horror!” can mean a great number of things. One meaning is the horror of imperialism and how badly they intervened into Africa. People working in Africa are slowly going mad as seen when Marlow first enters Africa. He first sees a ship firing shots at an island for no apparent reason. Later when he land at the camp site he sees African slaves digging holes into the ground for no apparent reason. The madness is clearly seen in these two scenarios. The darkness of imperialism has token hold of these people and made them mad over power.
Over the course of the journey Marlow can be seen to be influenced by the darkness of Africa. In the beginning Marlow heard great news about Kurtz based on stories and achievements about him. After arriving at the camp site he hear stories about Kurtz and they were on about how Kurtz took over the ivory trading by a landslide. The manager on site was pissed about Kurtz and wished he would be gone. These stories slowly dwindle down the idolization the Marlow has about Kurtz but he still kept his head on for when he meets Kurtz in person. When he arrives at the location where Kurtz lived he was greeted by a surprise attack, but luckily he managed to scare the attackers away with the ship horn. Upon arriving on site he noticed heads hanging off sticks and a Russian trader tells him that Kurtz killed them because they did not follow his orders. At this point Marlow’s image of Kurtz is already crumbling apart.