This is a course blog for the members of EH236 at the University of South Alabama, Spring 2006.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Kurtz, Europe, and Africa

When reading through Heart of Darkness, two statements stuck out. When referring to Kurtz’s parents, Marlow says “All of Europe contributed to the making of Kurtz.” Marlow also says, referring to Kurtz, “Everything belonged to him but that was a trifle. The thing was to know what he belonged to, how many powers of darkness claimed him for their own.” In a way these two statements sum up Marlow’s view of the connection between Kurtz, Europe, and Africa. Marlow is the creation of Europe. He is their messenger, their representative. More than that, he is their collector. He came to Europe with “his generous mind…his noble heart” and the righteousness of the European Idea: that Europeans were in Africa to bring civilization to the natives. They are the great helping the weak. Kurtz says in his pamphlet “we approach them with the might of a deity.” Kurtz only sees all the possessions he has gained in Africa, and in that way he is blind. He does not see that Africa, with its darkness, had taken possession of him. In this way all of Europe is blind. They do not see the power of the darkness, of this ancient land. Marlow says “the silent wilderness surrounding this cleared speck on earth struck me as something great and invincible, like evil or truth, waiting patiently for the passing away of this fantastic invasion.” The Europeans are there to concur something that is bigger than them, something they cannot even truly comprehend. Africa is the true great power. But, as I said, Europe cannot see this, and so they are willing to sacrifice Kurtz – its creation, who was once such a wonderful man - for its “idea”- for money, for trade, for progress.


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