Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness

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In the “Heart of Darkness” story by Joseph Conrad

The phrase “The horror! The horror!” made by Kurtz as he dies implies or means Kurtz’s realization of all the terrible things or horrors of his life during his stay in African, in the Congo. Besides, the phrase “The horror! The horror!” makes the readers realize or know the truth about Kurtz’s real character and it reflects Kurtz’s final judgment on his own actions and life, as well as imperialism and humankind in general. Through the “The horror! The horror!” phrase, Kurtz also portrays his fate, which appears to be significantly affected by the various events he experienced during his adventure or escapade to Africa (the Congo).

In my view

I think the “The horror! The horror!” refers to Marlowe’s experiences, as well as Kurtz’s brutality during his stay in the Congo. The phrase sums up all the deep-rooted evils and experiences in the civilized people’s hearts. The “The horror! The horror!” phase also refers to the Europeans’ hostility to Africans, which makes them (Europeans) blind to their environments. Moreover, “The horror! The horror!” phase refers to Kurtz’s ultimate downfall, which was due to his evil actions within the years of his stay in the Congo as a representative or agent of the European Company.

For instance, while in the Congo, Kurtz realized that he had the power to kill or take anybody’s life whenever he wished, as well as acquire whatever he wanted since nobody else had the authority to overlook him or defy him. From the story, it is also evident that Kurtz resorted to brutal raids or invasions of the Congo in search of ivory due to his hunger for the ivory and possession of authority. Kurtz even arranged or planned to raid Marlow’s steamer to make Marlow and his crew believe that he (Kurtz) was dead. Kurtz’s intention of planning an attack on Marlow’s steamer was to execute his plans for acquiring more ivory successfully. In short, Kurtz became corrupt, and his mania with ivory in the Congo appeared to have exposed his brutality or overcome his morality. Kurtz gained the native’s loyalty and convinced them (through intimidation and scary practices) to be his followers. Besides, Kurtz had no mercy for any native, and he put the natives' heads on a stake if they attempted to rebel or disobey him. All such brutal practices, in my view, compel Kurtz to make “The horror! The horror!” cry when he dies.

Additionally, the “Heart of Darkness” narrative

comes to an end when Kurtz and Marlowe are traveling back to England, which means they are going back to ‘civilization’ from the Congo in Africa. However, Kurtz slowly succumbs to death on his boat due to mental and physical instability. Kurtz utters the “The horror! The horror!” phrase when he realizes that he is about to die, and the phrase (being his last words) carries a deep meaning. I, therefore, think Kurtz last phrase, “The horror! The horror!” refers to all the things he did and witnessed during his stay or time in the Congo. Throughout his stay in the Cong in Africa, Kurtz remained a corrupt man, and he uses the "The horror! The horror" phrase to reflect the inhumane actions he took in Africa in the pretense of refinement and development. He persuaded the native Congolese to believe in his spirituality and introduced oppressive or brutal sacraments. Therefore, the "The horror! The horror!" phrase refers to Kurtz's reflection of his inhumane acts and life in the Congo.

December 12, 2023




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