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The Horror! The Horror

The last words of Kurtz, “The Horror! The Horror”, still rings ambiguity in literature lovers all over the world. Options are many to reach a conclusion. It can be his final desire to be back in the scenario of those abominable satisfactions which he enjoyed while with the savages; it can be his judgment on the unworthy end that he is going to meet by an unexpected death; it can be his description of the human plight; or it can be his vision of his own eternal damnation.

But a close reading of Heart of Darkness gives you the answer to the real meaning of its protagonist’s last words through the narrator, Marlowe. According to him it is Kurtz’s “judgement upon the adventures of his soul on this earth”(page 112). While dying Kurtz has realized that his life on this earth was undoubtedly a horrifying and horrible affair. The thoughts of evil which he had been committing during his stay among the savages, and of the diabolical deeds that he performed in association and in collaboration with them pestered him in his death bed.

The civilized phase of his life in the Congo was not able to inspire or instill any hope of salvation in him because he threw away his worthy life for futile passions; half for ivory and the rest for power and commercial greed. To be precise he had accomplished hardly anything of true worth so that he could be proud of it. If there existed something like that, it was just his love for his fiancee, but that too did not find fulfillment. Marlowe in the story tends to be Conrad’s mouth piece. Hence in his words, Conrad tries to say that these last words of Kurtz are an expression of some sort of belief.

These words pronounced great candor and conviction. It had been an “affirmation”, and a “moral victory” over all his innumerable defeats and over all the abominable terrors that formed a part of his experience, and above all, over all his abominable satisfactions. Hence these last words of Kurtz show forth the realization of the evil raging within and which controlled fairly a good part of his actions. Thus he represents the western man’s greed, commercial mentality, love of power and the hypocrisy of the white man’s claims of civilizing the savages.

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