The Transformation Of Kurtz In Joseph Conrad's Heart Of Darkness

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The phrase “beyond the pale” has been used often in British literature. The phrase literally meant the fenced-in territory which was placed around Dublin by the invading English during the medieval period. In a symbolic aspect, the phrase represents literary modernism that was displayed during this time period. However, metaphorically the phrase means “to stand outside the conventional boundaries of law, behavior, or social class” (Dettmar 1923). A reading that demonstrates out of the ordinary behavior is the novella Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. Heart of Darkness is about Marlow’s voyage as a skipper on a steamboat into the African jungle who is searching for Kurtz, an ivory trader. Marlow is sent to bring Kurtz back to civilization.…show more content…
Kurtz was known as a high-class agent, but later become a savage due to the power he gained by manipulating the Africans. Kurtz allows greed to get in the way of his hunt. His incredible drive for ivory sends him and his African alliances to raid many villages. Kurtz’s character changed due to his infatuation with ivory, Marlow explains, “The jungle has got into his veins, consumed his flesh” (Conrad ). This shows that Kurtz was no longer the man who he was known for. Kurtz developed such a great sense of madness that his last words before dying were, “The horror, the horror” (Conrad 2009). Kurtz fell into such a deep state of madness which lead him to manipulate the Africans into thinking he was a God. He had a native African mistress, and he did not once think about his fiancé throughout the passage or death. This is an example of beyond the pale because Kurtz completely acts out of his social norm and loses touch with who he…show more content…
The content in the story pointed out the conventional boundaries that were expected of the colonists but broken during the colonization. Colonizers such as Marlow and Kurtz would not have acted the way they did during their voyage, nor treat individuals in their society like they treated the native Africans. The novella showed dehumanization, imperialism, and madness among the characters. Although Heart of Darkness is still prevalent in literature, individuals would not act this way and perceive the character’s behavior as normal. In fact, it’d be perceived as beyond the
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