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Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad (part three)



Conrad’s famous novella is based on a real journey the author took up the Congo in 1890, during King Leopold II of Belgium’s horrific rule. It is a fantastic, imaginative journey to find a man named Kurtz who has lost his mind in the African jungle. It is a journey into inner space; a metaphorical investigation into the turbid waters of the human soul. It is a political journey into the dark heart of European colonialism. It is a nightmare journey, into horror. It is a journey to nowhere, set on a boat lying motionless and at anchor on the river Thames, which also “has been one of the dark places on the earth”.

There’s no shortage of journeys to talk about in relation to Heart of Darkness – but selfishly, I want to talk about my own. Few things have had such a profound effect on me as my passage towards understanding this book. When I began to realize how many possibilities the book contains, and how beautifully Conrad brings out their meanings, I felt enlightenment. A vague kind of enlightenment, it’s true. One, in fact, described by Conrad himself in a typically glorious.In this piece of writing we are going to analyse part three;events and characters ;


Summary of part III :

The Russian trader describes his precarious relationship with Kurtz. He has known him for two years and, when Kurtz fell ill it was he who nursed him back to health. Marlow hears of Kurtz’s ivory raids and of his mysterious power over the natives. Kurtz is adored; as a result, there is nothing to restrain him from doing whatever he wants, even to killing. Now, however, Kurtz is again ill, and the Russian begs Marlow to take him quickly away from the village.

As Marlow surveys Kurtz’s house he notices that fence posts surrounding it are topped with human skulls. Suddenly, Kurtz appears, carried on stretcher. Marlow describes him as being very tall and thin; his head is bald and white as ivory. Marlow gives Kurtz the letters he has brought and retires to the deck of the boat with the harlequin. They both watch in fascination as a magnificent native woman appears.

The manager and Kurtz have an argument about Kurtz’s “unsound method” and, almost in spite of himself; Marlow finds himself on Kurtz’s side. The harlequin informs Marlow that it was Kurtz who ordered the attack on the riverboat, and worries about the effect of this on Kurtz’s reputation. The harlequin then disappears into the jungle after borrowing some shoes and English tobacco.

Marlow awakens at midnight to discover that Kurtz has disappeared. He experiences a deep “moral shock” but does not sound an alarm. Instead, he goes off into the jungle, alone, in search of Kurtz. On the bank of the river he finds a wide trail. Ahead, Kurtz, too weak to walk, is crawling on all fours. Marlow circles ahead of Kurtz and confronts him only a few feet from a native fire. He reasons with Kurtz, telling him that he will be utterly lost if he does not return to the riverboat. In the ensuring argument, Marlow sees that Kurtz himself is rational, but that his “soul” is “mad”. Marlow wins the argument and helps Kurtz back to the boat.

The next day, Kurtz and Marlow prepare to leave. As the boat gets under way the natives gather on shore, but when Marlow blows the whistle they all rush off into the jungle. Only the beautiful, native woman remains.

Kurtz and Marlow talk as the journey continues. Kurtz tells Marlow of his grandiose plans for the future and of the woman he had planned to marry, his intended.

One night, while the boat is stopped for repairs, Kurtz begins to feel that he is going to die. Close to death, Kurtz goes through a hideous transformation, as if a “veil has been rent”.kurtz dies after uttering his final words, “the horror! The horror!” the pilgrims bury Kurtz.

Marlow himself becomes very ill and, still physically and spiritually shaky; he goes back to Brussels with Kurtz’s papers and the knowledge of his reputation. He finds out a general deal more about the man Kurtz has been from a company employee and from Kurtz’s cousin. He goes to see Kurtz’s intended, and finds her devoted to the illusion that Kurtz was a great and good man. When she questions Marlow about Kurtz’s final words, he cannot bring himself to tell her the truth, telling her instead that Kurtz died uttering her name.

The setting returns to the deck of the Nellie, and Marlow’s story ends with him sitting silently in the “pose of a mediating Buddha”. And the unnamed narrator looks off into the dark sky which makes the water way seem to lead into the heart of an immense darkness.

Analysis of Part three main characters:

1/The Russian Trader:

The part three opens with the description Marlow gives to the Russian. Kurtz’s devoted companion, he is an idealistic explorer who has wandered to the Congo on a Dutch ship and has been caught in the web of Kurtz’s obsessive ivory hunt. Marlow sees him as the prototype of youthful innocence. While the Russian seems naiveté might prevent him from understanding the diabolic nature of Kurtz, he suggests that Kurtz has enlarged his mind implying that he, acting the fool, is perhaps a wise fool. His outward appearance reflects his moral isolation which seen as a reason for Marlow not to be a victim to moral chaos. He can be seen as a symbol of civilization, a surface of truth, or an outward impression of sanity in the midst of darkness.


Marlow’s function is not only to comment as a spokesman for Conrad’s fundamental outlook, but to function as a character who describing his journey of self- discovery, his personal growth of consciousness to the point that he ultimately becomes aware of authentic reality. The particular point of view with which Marlow describes his journey to the Congo is one that views the past from the present’s perspective. He remarks that he did not know himself before setting out. His journey is one in which he gains knowledge and experience, the climax occurring when he confronts Kurtz. When Marlow returns to Europe, he is changed and more knowing man. He discovers that it is only superficial knowledge that people have .in part three Marlow makes his firm recognition that heart of darkness, represented by Kurtz, contains the forbidden, secret knowledge of reality, the truth that is found behind the surface of appearance. Marlow’s evaluation of Kurtz is ambiguous since he finds it hard to explain Kurtz words and deeds. Kurtz can inspire a positive emotional reaction in Marlow with some evil. Another test that makes Marlow’s journey unfinished is his confrontation with the intended. This latter believes in an illusion through her deep love to a false Kurtz. So it was for Marlow to lie not to disillusion her gives us the image of the changed Marlow after the journey by exercising responsibility and his knowledge of human limitations.


Kurtz who was introduced earlier in part two enjoyed a detailed description in part three. He was completely degenerated and without restrain. He is the unique victim of colonization; the wilderness captures him and he turns his back on the people and customs that were once a part of him. Kurtz is described as “a remarkable man” lacks “some small matter which, when the pressing need arose, could not be found under his magnificent eloquence. He is ambitious for power and fame, and nothing can prevent him from killing


Unlike Kurtz’s mistress, the intended is a civilized European woman of high values. She is a Fidel woman who loves Kurtz during his life and even after his death and believes that he is an ideal man. When Marlow visits her, he finds that she is still in mourning though a year has passed of Kurtz death. She asks Marlow about the last words Kurtz uttered .he lies and says that it was her name .because she is naïve ,she believes that  and more than this she says it is sure that this is the case.

Is heart of darkness a racist novella?

Conrad has been criticized to be a racist in heart of darkness. This appears in the hole novel in general and in part III in particular .this manifested in the bad description made by Marlow of natives who were kurtz’servants when he says “…as if by enchantment, streams of human beings –of naked human beings –with spears in their hands, with bows, with shields, with wild glances and savage movements, were poured into the clearing by dark –faced and pensive forest. In addition and according to Chinua Achebe, he is pure racist and he argues that in his famous article “an image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s heart of darkness». For the African writer, Conrad lavishes a whole page to describe an African woman who has been Kurtz’s mistress in which he says “she was savage and superb, wild –eyed and magnificent …she stood looking at us without a stir and like the wilderness itself, with an air of brooding over an inscrutable purpose”. In returns, he puts the European Intended in a good position through his description «she came forward all in black with a pale head, floating towards me in dusk .She was in mourning………she had a mature capacity for fidelity, for belief and suffering”. This makes racism very evident within the story

Conclusion :

Part three is the journey’s last days and the novel’s last part. Conrad uses this part to transmit all what he has learned from his experience through the mouth of Marlow. What is significant in this part is Marlow’s discovery of the core of Mr. Kurtz. Also this part mainly focuses on the changes in personality of the great men Marlow and Kurtz and what happened to them in Africa. Marlow comes to understand himself, his moral responsibilities and the tragic limitations involved in human freedom. Kurtz on the other hand, starting out like Marlow as an emissary of light, cannot conquer the potential of evil within himself. Marlow learns through Kurtz experience that man is defined by his work. Kurtz work has created a jungle’s hell which destroys him. All in all, the novel and mainly part three deals with the significant moral conflict. Conrad could show the latent upon him. As Edward Garnett: “for the art of heart of darkness as in every psychological master piece lies in the relation of the things of the spirits of things of the flesh, of the invisible life to the visible, of the sub-conscious within us” .






I see the beauty everywhere

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