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In the Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, the character of Kurtz, demonstrates humans natural need to achieve personal desires, which is believed to be an acceptable nature. Kurtz’s dissolution and dishonesty takes place as he travels deep into the Congo. Kurtz’s behavior is considered acceptable within the Congo, as the area is so severe. Kurtz’s actions of imperialism lead him to his dissolution because of his obsession with wealth and power. This leads Kurtz to believe his ways of darkness and dissolution are good, although they are the cause of his corruption.
Kurtz is first known as a man of great respect and power, because he is seen to be very knowledgeable. He believes he is able to save the natives from their barbarity through colonization, and taking the ways of the European culture instead of considering the natives way of life. Kurtz believes in order for his plan to work he must, “appear to them [savages]â€¦with the might of a deityâ€¦ By the simple exercise of our will, we can exert a power for good practically unbound,”  (84). However, Kurtz is unaware in his proposal to colonize the natives by stripping them of their primitive ways, he is dehumanizing them. Kurtz does not consider the culture in which the natives are already living by. Kurtz does not understand the culture of the natives, as well as does not take the time to try, therefore making him ignorant to the native’s way of life. He strongly believes in colonization, where the natives should mimic the European culture. Although Kurtz is thought of as a “remarkable person,” (Conrad 28) and renowned for his successes as he “sends in as much ivory as all the others put togetherâ€¦” (Conrad 28), consequently making others believe his actions are moral. Kurtz’s success for the company has created a shadow over the corruption he is involved in. The reality of the situation Kurtz ideals of colonizing the natives is what leads him towards his dissolution. The corruption in Kurtz demonstrates his ignorance as he feels he must save the natives from themselves, leading him to dehumanize them. Kurtz is aware he is more powerful than the natives due to his technological advancements, leading him to ways of imperialism, by taking control over the natives. The Congo is the heart of darkness, and Kurtz was the man to conquer over the unknown world of darkness. It becomes evident that Kurtz’s initial proposal of colonization was the establishment of his own dissolution.
The selfishness and dishonesty within Kurtz is mirrored by the selfishness and dishonesty within the council. Both Kurtz and the council dispose of their ethics to gain the power they need to acquire their wealth and success. Kurtz’s realization of the corruption leads him to the darkness of colonization. Kurtz’s scheme to, “exterminate all the brutes,” (Conrad 84) is supported through the council by praising Kurtz in saying, “He will be a somebody in the administration before long. They, above-the council in Europe, you know-mean him to be,” (Conrad 30). Like Kurtz, the council is corrupted in their ideals to obtain wealth and success. The chief sees that because Kurtz is providing the company with, “as much ivory as all the others put together,” (Conrad 28) Kurtz will go far in life, as he is seen as the biggest success. Kurtz and the council are willing to discard their morals without any sign of remorse. They use their power to leave fear in the natives by killing anyone for reasons, which are morally absurd. In the eyes of the council and Kurtz, it is acceptable to, “get him hanged,” (Conrad 53) because to them, “anything- anything can be done in this country,” (Conrad 53). There is no limit to how they will secure riches. The council and Kurtz see only the ivory, leading them to destroy the natives for their own self-serving purposes. This brings Kurtz towards the darkness, causing him to dehumanize himself along with the natives. It is Kurtz and the councils thirst for power and imperialistic views, which lead them to wanting more and forcing the natives into lives they do not wish to follow, and doing them harm if they do not cooperate. It is Kurtz’s selfish ways, which fed his corruption, which the council exploited, fulfill their own desires.
Kurtz’s abuse of power allows him to take advantage of the native’s primitive nature, while creating the illusion to progress the natives into a more civilized culture. Kurtz began with, “immense plans,” (Conrad 111) to benefit the lives of the natives. However, it is the corruption within Kurtz, which has altered him to change his intentions from good to evil, as he uses the native’s basic way of life to fulfill his corrupt self-serving desires. Kurtz uses the natives as a pawn to achieve his final goal of ivory and success. The natives were ignorant to Kurtz’s intent, “they adored himâ€¦ he came to them with thunder and lightening, you know- and they had never seen anything like it,” (Conrad 94). The natives were unaware of the technology in Europe, as they are still a primitive culture, leading Kurtz to use this to his advantage in a corrupt manor. Kurtz abuses his power within the company by using imperialism to attain his riches. It is Kurtz’s imperialistic ways, which fill him with darkness. As the darkness grows in Kurtz, his ways become more corrupt to satisfy his self serving needs to attain control, adding to the dissolution of him.
Through Kurtz’s involvement with the council, he is fed the illusion that he is to live with no restrictions. Since Kurtz is able to live with no boundaries, this feeds his corruption, as he can use any means to fulfill his desire for ivory and riches. Others are aware of Kurtz’s inability to abide by the law when Marlow is told, “You can’t judge Mr. Kurtz as you would an ordinary man,” (Conrad 94-95) which only allows the dissolution in Kurtz to grow, as people accept these rules set out by the council. Kurtz plays this illusion to his advantage, as he uses extreme acts of violence and threats towards others to acquire his desires, as he has the power to do so. Kurtz’s corruption for greed continues to grow as, “he declared he would shoot me unless I gave him the ivory and then cleared out of the country, because he could do so, and had a fancy for it, and there was nothing on earth to prevent him killing whom he jolly well pleased,” (Conrad 95). Kurtz’s morals are evidently sinful, as his actions to fulfill his self-serving needs are growing worse. The company mirrors Kurtz’s corruption, as they are aware of his actions and does nothing to end it, as Kurtz’s selfish desires benefit them as well. Each ones desire feed off the other. However, Kurtz is brought back to reality when he is, “shamefully abandoned,” (Conrad 99), by the company when he is no longer of use to them. The company has acted to Kurtz as Kurtz acted towards the natives. The company has acted to fulfill their own self-serving desires, in order to retain their status. The company and Kurtz use imperialism to attain their desire of wealth, carrying them further into corruption. There is dissolution between both the company and Kurtz, as they both behave greedily.
In Conrad’s Heart of Darkness Kurtz’s self-serving desires lead him to his dissolution and dehumanization of himself and others. Kurtz’s becomes more corrupt as he wishes to fulfill his desire for wealth. Kurtz’s actions of imperialism lead him to his dissolution because of his obsession with wealth and power. Kurtz’s corruption is made evident as he uses his power for evil, leading him towards the darkness causing his dissolution.
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