An in-depth look at how man copes in a world of no boundaries. At man’s failures. At the power of personality to overcome the atrocity of deeds, Heart of Darkness misses many opportunities to bring these points home – if those are, indeed the intended points. Most of the book deals with the journey to find Kurtz – the subject of the study above. But that journey is non-eventful. Conrad could spend less time discussing how to maneuver around river snags and more fleshing out this personality that is so key, but of which the reader sees very little first-hand.
I find it disturbing that, despite all the evil Kurtz seemed to have done (the man had heads on spikes outside his house for Pete’s sake), and his realization of it at the end of his life, Marlow still feels compelled to be loyal, compelled to call him friend, compelled to think of Kurtz as a great being. Is this due to Kurtz’s power of voice? Did his words (which comprised so much of his identity) contain such power that one forgot his evil deeds – that one could dismiss them as unimportant in the overall scheme of things? This ability, its roots, its power, its ultimate impact, this is what I’d like to see explored more. Where I think the meat of the novel really lies. And it feels like Conrad chose instead to brush over it.
I’m still disappointed with this purported classic. But it does strike a curious chord to explore if voice can truly have such pull. Maybe I need to do what Conrad did not.