Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness

In Heart of Darkness it is the white invaders
for instance, who are, almost without exception, embodiments of blindness,
selfishness, and cruelty; and even in the cognitive domain, where such
positive phrases as "to enlighten," for instance, are conventionally opposed
to negative ones such as "to be in the dark," the traditional expectations
are reversed. In Kurtz's painting, as we have seen, "the effect of the
torch light on the face was sinister" (Watt 332).

Ian Watt, author of "Impressionism and

Symbolism in Heart of Darkness," discusses about the destruction set upon
the Congo by Europeans. The destruction set upon the Congo by Europeans
led to the cry of Kurtz's last words, "The horror! The horror!" The horror
in Heart of Darkness has been critiqued to represent different aspects
of situations in the book. However, Kurtz's last words "The horror! The
horror!" refer, to me, to magnify only three major aspects. The horror
magnifies Kurtz not being able to restrain himself, the colonizers' greed,
and Europe's darkness.

Kurtz comes to the Congo with noble intentions.

He thought that each ivory station should stand like a beacon light, offering
a better way of life to the natives. He was considered to be a "universal
genius": he was an orator, writer, poet, musician, artist, politician,
ivory producer, and chief agent of the ivory company's Inner Station. yet,
he was also a "hollow man," a man without basic integrity or any sense
of social responsibility. "Kurtz issues the feeble cry, 'The horror! The
horror!' and the man of vision, of poetry, the 'emissary of pity, and science,
and progress' is gone. The jungle closes' round" (Labrasca 290). Kurtz
being cut off from civilization reveals his dark side. Once he entered
within his "heart of darkness" he was shielded from the light. Kurtz turned
into a thief, murderer, raider, persecutor, and to climax all of his other
shady practices, he allows himself to be worshipped as a god. E. N. Dorall,
author of "Conrad and Coppola: Different Centres of Darkness," explains

Kurtz's loss of his identity.

Daring to face the consequences of his
nature, he loses his identity; unable to be totally beast and never able
to be fully human, he alternates between trying to return to the jungle
and recalling in grotesque terms his former idealism. Kurtz discovered,

A voice! A voice! It rang deep to the very last. It survived his strength
to hide in the magnificent folds of eloquence the barren darkness of his
heart.... But both the diabolic love and the unearthly hate of the mysteries
it had penetrated fought for the possession of that soul satiated with
primitive emotions, avid of lying, fame, of sham distinction, of all the
appearances of success and power. Inevitably Kurtz collapses, his last
words epitomizing his experience, The horror! The horror! (Dorall 306).

The horror to Kurtz is about self realization;
about the mistakes he committed while in Africa.

The colonizers' cruelty towards the natives
and their lust for ivory also is spotlighted in Kurtz's horror. The white
men who came to the Congo professing to bring progress and light to "darkest

Africa" have themselves been deprived of the sanctions of their European
social orders. The supposed purpose of the colonizers' traveling into Africa
was to civilize the natives. Instead the Europeans took the natives' land
away from them by force. They burned their towns, stole their property,
and enslaved them. "Enveloping the horror of Kurtz is the Congo Free State
of Leopold II, totally corrupt though to all appearances established to
last for a long time" (Dorall 309). The conditions described in Heart of

Darkness reflect the horror of Kurtz's words: the chain gangs, the grove
of death, the payment in brass rods, the cannibalism and the human skulls
on the fence posts.

Africans bound with thongs that contracted
in the rain and cut to the bone, had their swollen hands beaten with rifle
butts until they fell off. Chained slaves were forced to drink the white
man's defecation, hands and feet were chopped off for their rings, men
were lined up behind each other and shot with one cartridge, wounded prisoners
were eaten by maggots till they died and were then thrown to starving dogs
or devoured by cannibal tribes (Meyers 100).

The colonizers enslaved the natives to
do their biding; the cruelty practiced on the black workers were of the
white man's mad and greedy rush for ivory. "The unredeemable horror in
the tale is the duplicity, cruelty, and venality of Europeans officialdom"
(Levenson 401).

Civilization is only preserved by maintaining
illusions. Juliet Mclauchlan, author of "The Value and Significance of

Heart of Darkness," stated that every colonizer in