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Character Sketch of Mr.

Kurtz in the novel

“The Heart of Darkness”

One of the most enigmatic characters in twentieth-century literature,

Kurtz is a petty tyrant, a dying god, an embodiment of Europe, and an

assault on European values. In literature wrote some great character in which

doctor Faustus, Macbeth, Heathcliff, Estragon and Vladimir, Mr. Kurtz also

include in that great character. He has a sumptuous and sign of a tragic hero,

appear downfall villain at beginning but at the end tragic hero. Like the other

tragic heroes, he has all the heroic quality; negative tendencies found in his

character like Faustus and Macbeth. He snatches away ivory from people at

gun point. To fulfil his instinct, he built relationship with native mistresses

and forgets his fiancé Miss intended. Like his name there is contrast found in

his plan of life, Kurtz is a German word which means short but Mr. Kurtz

look like seven feet tall. He came African for short but he stay long time tell

his death. His own life also short but his plan for enjoying with evil for long


Mr. Kurtz came to Africa with two purposes, earning wealth to get a

high status in society equal to his fiancé miss intended. After sometimes to
earn the money he came back to Europe and marriage miss intended. The

second purpose was to civilize the African savages and work for their

prosperity and benefit. He want to civilized the cannibals for this purpose he

wrote a long pamphlet of seventeen pages in narrow writing, in which he

give logic and reason to make a society to civilized society. But toward the

end of that pamphlet he lost his passion and wrote, “Exterminate all the

brute”. Which mean all above logic and reason given to civilized the society

are useless and not purpose for it. The wilderness of nature also down his

influence on Mr.Kurtz, he lost his adequate tools in Congo because there

was no check and balance in cannibal’s society which found in European


The first reference to Mr. Kurtz comes when Marlow, ,in the

very beginning of his narration, tells his listeners that he had first met

the “poor chap” after sailing up the river Congo and reaching “the

farthest point of navigation.” Here Marlow also tells his listeners that

his meeting with Mr. Kurtz was the culminating-point of his

experiences. This meeting, says Marlow, seemed somehow to throw a

kind of light on everything wound him and also a light into his own

The accountant describes of Mr. Kurtz as “first class agent” of the company

adding that Mr. Kurtz is a “very remarkable man.” Marlow learns about

Mr.Kurtz that he is a top agent stationed in the interior, in "true ivory

country," and that he pumps out more ivory than all the other stations


At the Central Station, the manager spreads the news that Mr. Kurtz

is very ill. When Marlow asks the brickmaker about Kurtz, he gets a

sarcastic answer because the brickmaker is jealous of Kurtz’s success. When

the brickmaker comes back to Marlow to suck up, Marlow learns that Kurtz

had powerful connections with the Company just as Marlow himself does.

At the end of the first chapter, Marlow has begun identifying with and

admiring Kurtz. Marlow overhears the manager and his uncle hoping that

sickness or the environment, or possibly both will kill Kurtz for them, so

that they can advance in the Company. They also have suspicions that Kurtz

is acquiring his sinful quantities of ivory in dishonest ways. All these

conversations only increase Kurtz’s reputation and esteem in Marlow’s eyes.

Marlow now meets a Russian who is on a tour of exploration in the

Congo. The Russian says that Mr. Kurtz had enabled him to “see” things,
that is, to understand things. The Russian then informs Marlow that he had

nursed Mr. Kurtz through two illnesses.

The Russian says that Mr. Kurtz had not only been collecting ivory but also

been exploring the surrounding region. In the course of his exploration, Mr.

Kurtz had become very friendly with the natives. The native tribes had felt

deeply impressed by Mr. Kurtz because they had never before seen or come

across anybody like him. Mr. Kurtz had overwhelmed the natives with his

personality and with his awful ways. Mr. Kurtz could be very terrible when

it suited him. Mr. Kurtz says the Russian is not to be judged as an ordinary

man is judged .On one occasion; Mr. Kurtz had threatened to shoot the

Russian because the Russian had refused to surrender to Mr. Kurtz a small

quantity of ivory which village chief had given him as a present. As a

consequence of that threat, the Russian further informs Marlow that Mr.

Kurtz is so powerful in this region that he can kill anyone whom he might

wish to kill. But the most striking thing about Mr. Kurtz is his passion for

ivory. Mr. Kurtz’s appetite for ivory had got the better of all his other

material aspirations. Apart from all these trait and tendencies, the quality

which distinguished Mr. Kurtz from all other persons is his eloquence or his

capacity to speak fluently and express his ideas in a most impressive and

effective manner.
When Marlow finally reaches the Inner Station, he meets Kurtz when

a group of native Africans bears him down in a stretcher. He is emaciated

and frail; only his voice rings strongly. Kurtz has a private interview with

the manager and they argue. Marlow takes Kurtz’s side. The evening before

they plan to depart, Kurtz makes his escape. Or his pathetic attempt to

escape. Being seriously sick, he cannot actually walk – he must crawl on all

fours into the wilderness. It doesn’t take Marlow long to find him. Kurtz

talks to Marlow extensively for the first time, demonstrating his madness.

He orders Marlow to go and hide himself – though it is unclear whether he

means from the native Africans or from the pilgrims. Despite Marlow’s

threats to bring Kurtz back forcefully, Kurtz ignores him and raves on about

how great his plans were and how they have now been destroyed by a pitiful

man – the manager. During their conversation, Marlow finally realizes

Kurtz’s mind has been warped by the interior and that he has gone mad.

Mr.Kurtz abuses his intended by cheating on her with his African mistress

but yet his mistress is simply as a pass time for Kurtz and this mistress

shows his level of control over the natives and the intended. Kurtz power of

wealth and the natives may not be enough for him and therefore he displays

his power of women, by abusing their emotions and rights.

When they are about to leave on the steamboat, the warrior

woman breaks through and gestures to Kurtz. Though nobody else

understands the meaning, Kurtz does and refuses to share it with anybody. A

few days later, Kurtz’s madness and illness worsens. He goes blind, saying

he cannot see the light when he is but a few feet from a patch of sunlight. He

raves unintelligibly. In his last moments, his face undergoes some

fascinating (to Marlow) changes – first pride, then power, and finally

despairs. His last words, uttered in some vision before his death, are "The

horror! The horror!” Which is elaborated in the end when Marlow faces

Kurtz’s, Intended, and finds her still mourning, though it has been over a

year since Kurtz’s death. The intendeds love for Kurtz was extraordinary. In

the last scene of the book, Marlow misrepresents these final words to

Kurtz’s Intended. He tells her that Kurtz said her name on his deathbed.

In this novel Joseph Conrad make an experiment and

want to prove that man only civilized due to his internal and external

checks. It that checks removed the wilderness of humanbeing awakened

due to the influence of genetic kinship; he lost his morality and duty. Mr.

Kurtz is a man who has all qualities of artist, journalist, painter but

instead of that he failed to control his savages’ instinct. Mr.Kurtz lack of

adequate tools of civilization due to which he made human being to

savage god, “Getting himself adored”. The savage people offer human

sacrifice for man god, Mr. Kurtz and these human skull placed around the

residence of Mr. Kurtz. This show the dehumanization of white people

spiritually and morally. Heart of darkness has an “ambitious metaphor,

describing Belgian colonialism in the heart of Africa and the evil in

Kurtz’s heart”. Kurtz is unable to stop his inner soul from being taken by

the darkness of Congo, and so he is driven to madness. His madness

comes from his introspection of his inner darkness; his self examination

finally makes him realize at his deathbed “the horror” of it all.

The horror of all his immoral acts, the horror and gloom of Congo. The

horror refers to about anything that represents darkness, especially the

clear division of races.


To sum up we can say that, Kurtz is a man of many talents, we learn, among

other things, that he is a gifted musician and a fine painter, the chief of

which are his charisma and his ability to lead men. Kurtz is a man who

understands the power of words, and his writings are marked by an

eloquence that obscures their horrifying message. Although he remains an

enigma even to Marlow, Kurtz clearly exerts a powerful influence on the

people in his life. His downfall seems to be a result of his willingness to

ignore the hypocritical rules that govern European colonial conduct: Kurtz

has “kicked himself loose of the earth” by fraternizing excessively with

the natives and not keeping up appearances; in so doing, he has become

wildly successful but has also incurred the wrath of his fellow white men.