Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now Essay

This essay has a total of 895 words and 4 pages.

Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now



Christian Rivas
5-20-2000
Period 6
Heart of Darkness/Apocalypse Now

Inside every human soul is a savage evil side that remains separated by society. Often
this evil side breaks out during times of isolation from our culture, and whenever one
culture confronts another. Whenever different cultures meet, there is often a fear of
contamination and loss of self that leads us to discover more about our true selves, often
causing madness by those who have yet to discover. Joseph Conrad's book, The Heart of
Darkness and the movie, Apocalypse Now are both stories about Man's journey into his self,
and the discoveries to be made there. They are also about Man confronting his fears of
failure, insanity, and death.

During Marlow's mission to find Kurtz, he is also trying to find himself. He, like Kurtz
had good intentions upon entering the Congo. Joseph Conrad tries to show us that Marlow
is what Kurtz had been, and Kurtz is what Marlow could become. Every human has a little of
Marlow and Kurtz in them. Along the trip into the wilderness, they discover their true
selves through contact with savage natives. As Marlow ventures further up the Congo, he
feels like he is traveling back through time. He sees the unsettled wilderness and can
feel the darkness of its solitude. The deeper into the jungle he goes, the more awkward
the inhabitants seem. Kurtz had lived in the Congo, and was separated from his own culture
for quite some time. He had once been considered an honorable man, but the jungle changed
him greatly. Here, set apart from the rest of his own society, he discovered his evil side
and became corrupted by his power and solitude. Marlow tells us about the Ivory that Kurtz
kept as his own, and that he had no restraint. Kurtz went insane and allowed himself to be
worshiped as a god. It appears that while Kurtz had been isolated from his culture, he had
become corrupted by this violent native culture, and allowed his evil side to control him.
Marlow realizes that only very near the time of death, does a person grasp the big
picture. Kurtz's last supreme moment of complete knowledge showed him how horrible the
human soul really can be. Marlow can only guess as to what Kurtz saw that caused him to
exclaim "The horror! The horror." Marlow guesses that Kurtz suddenly knew everything and
discovered how horrible the way of man can be. Marlow learned through Kurtz's death, and
he now knows that inside every human is this horrible, evil side.

The movie, Apocalypse Now, is based loosely upon Joseph Conrad's book. Captain Willard is
a Marlow who is on a mission into Cambodia during the Vietnam war to find and kill an
insane Colonel Kurtz. Kurtz, was an officer and a sane, successful, brilliant leader. Like
Joseph Conrad's Kurtz, this Kurtz shows us a man who was once very well respected, but was
corrupted by the horror of war and the cultures he met. In Heart of Darkness we find that
Kurtz's major fear is "being white in a non white jungle." The story Kurtz tells Willard
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