Great men are almost always bad men. ” (The Phrase Finder) In 1887, Lord Acton said this in a letter to Bishop Creighton.
This thought appears to be exemplified In the classic tale Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. The above quote by Acton seems to have sprung from another by the French politician Alphorns Lamenting, when he stated that “It is not only the slave or serf who is ameliorated in becoming free…
The master himself did to gain less in every point of view,… Or absolute power corrupts the best natures. ” (The Phrase Finder) Though it is hard to plan down the thoughts and personalities of Concord’s central characters Marrow and Kurt, It seems that this Idea catches up with each of them at some point In Darkness. Marrows Ideas of honesty and efficiency, compassion, ignorance, and even his view of the world he resides in are very dynamic and ever changing. His drive to see and experience Kurt is what drives the whole story, as it is more a psychological journey than a physical one.
Throughout the story, Marrow is thought to be honest to the core, all the while viewing the “company as Inefficient and cold. However, we find that though Marrow appears to be honest, he Is driven by his own selfish desires. Throughout the story, Marrow is dismayed at the fact that the native Africans are treated no better than livestock and are beaten into compliance, yet he never even voices his thoughts and frustrations to try and better their civilization. There are two scenes especially that provide evidence of this.
One is when he arrives at the first inland station and sees the slaves being treated as less than men. He sees chain gangs and the “grove of death,” and Is appalled by this. Even though he gives himself the attributes of virtue and honesty. He never speaks out for them or shows his disappointment to the company men.
Later, at the second station, a supply hut goes up in flames in the middle of the night. In his frustration, a company man begins to beat a slave, saying he caused the fire, but really he just needs an outlet for his anger.Marrow witnesses he whole incident from his steamer, but he never makes a move to interrupt the violence.
He claims to care for the natives and be upset by their treatment, but his actions prove differently. “The horror (112) The above Ideas of compassion and honesty clash above, and while there isn’t a clear winner, later, it appears that compassion begins to lay claim to a larger part of Marrows conscience, and he lets honesty fail. Just before reaching Kurt station, Marrows steamer is attacked by a local tribe that Kurt controls.
Marrows friend and helmsman Is impaled by a spear. They have cannibals aboard that beg to feed upon the helmsman’s body, but Marrow refuses, even though the helmsman himself was a cannibal. By this point, Marrows visions of reality and right and wrong are set askew, and he doesn’t know what to think, but he holds onto enough of himself to put the helmsman overboard, and its here that his morals and ideals are revealed again. At the close of the story, Marrow goes to Kurt’ Intended in London to tell her of his death.She wants to know exactly how Kurt died, and especially how he lived In his last hours. Though Marrow knows of the travesties Kurt’ final words were, hoping it was her name.
Marrow senses this, and not being able to break her internally, he tells her that that is exactly what happened. However, Kurt never mentions her in his final moments, instead he talks about how horrible it is for him to die like he, considering his deeds were great, though terrible. Marrows very ideas also make him hard to identify with, as they are ever changing. Mr.. Kurt is only a name to Marrow, as it is to you.From the start, Marrow only to took this Job to mamba boredom and to see more country, but after a while this all begins to change, and Kurt becomes much more to Marrow. As Marrow is waiting for rivets, he has lots of time to meditate, and occasionally thinks of Kurt, but he says “l wasn’t very interested in him.
No. ” (55) Yet not even 10 pages later, Marrow says that his steamer “crawled towards Kurt – exclusively. ” (61). He has become quite fickle in his thinking, and it is easily apparent, and this is due to the effect the Jungle has on him.Just as the Jungle changes Marrow, it also changes Kurt, which is only one of their molarities.
At the very beginning of Darkness, Marrow is sitting on a ship in a position resembling the god Buddha, while early depictions of Kurt portray him as godlike as well, but he represents the all powerful and wrathful Roman god, Jupiter. Yet even in his adoration of Kurt, Just before he is physically presented to Marrow, Marrow states that “Mr.. Kurt was no idol of mine. ” (95) This cannot be though, as Marrow has repeatedly thought to himself that the only reason he continues on this mission and delves deeper into the Jungle is to see this man.Obsession grips both of them, Kurt in his unstoppable hunt for ivory, and Marrow with his relentless quest for Kurt. Concord’s literary style is somewhat different from most, as he introduces his protagonist and describes him in depth at the start of the story, both physically and mentally.
By the end of Marrows tale, however, we aren’t sure exactly who Marrow is. The Jungle changed him; in exactly the same way it did Kurt. It is this ambiguity that makes it impossible to identify and classify Marrow, as his peace was disturbed and now he will never be the same.Hugo Weavings character in V for Vendetta is highly relatable to Marrows character, and this is easily seen when V says that “There is a face beneath this mask, but it isn’t me.
I’m no more that face than I am the muscles beneath it, or the bones beneath that. ” While Steve Moor’s character V had a physical mask to cover the scars on his face, Marrow, and each of us, wears a mask, a mask that portrays him differently than he really is and that covers the truth. Though these aren’t always immediately noticed, once they are, the lives we live fall apart.