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In Heart of Darkness Kurtz says the horror, what did he mean?

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sstrull | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 18, 2007 at 1:41 AM via web

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In Heart of Darkness Kurtz says the horror, what did he mean?

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ccairney | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted March 19, 2007 at 7:03 AM (Answer #2)

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First of all, the statement is 'beautifully ambiguous.' That means that it can mean a number of things, all at the same time. Professors love that kind of thing! So you can intrpret 'The horror! The horror!' as a comment by Kurtz on the ultimate frustration of a man who had 'great plans' but can not live to accomplish them. His soul 'encompases all things' but his flesh is weak. It can also be interpreted as his last words on the colonial enterprise in Africa, which Heart of Darkness is clearly critical of. But mostly it is an existential comment by an ubermunch, or 'superman' of Nietzsche, on being intellectually brave, bold and strong enough to travel to the 'inner station' of the mind: the physical journey of Marlow up the Congo River becomes a metaphor for this existential journey. Consider this quote from the end of the story, in which Marlow discusses 'The horror': This is the reason why I affirm that Kurtz was a
remarkable man. He had something to say. He said it. Since I had peeped
over the edge myself, I understand better the meaning of his stare, that
could not see the flame of the candle, but was wide enough to embrace
the whole universe, piercing enough to penetrate all the hearts that
beat in the darkness. He had summed up--he had judged. 'The horror!' He
was a remarkable man. After all, this was the expression of some sort of belief; it had candour, it had conviction, it had a vibrating note of
revolt in its whisper, it had...'

Hope that helps

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teresataylor22 | eNoter

Posted December 22, 2013 at 9:20 PM (Reply #1)

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Very fine answer, this.  The best I've seen in response to the question.  Well done, you.

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user890483 | Student, Kindergarten | eNoter

Posted March 19, 2014 at 9:01 AM (Reply #2)

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remarkably done.............

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user890483 | Student, Kindergarten | eNoter

Posted March 19, 2014 at 4:39 PM (Reply #3)

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can you help me to clear my vision of this novel????

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gbeatty | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 18, 2007 at 2:04 AM (Answer #1)

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It is not completely clear, and must be interpreted from context. Either he, as the preceding paragraphs suggest, relived his life and realized how awful it had been and much darkness he'd experienced, or he had some vision of the afterlife, and realized he was essentially going to hell.

In either case, whether it refers to past life or future treatment, it refers to his fate and evaluation of it.

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cipiripi | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted June 7, 2011 at 9:23 PM (Answer #3)

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i think the title refers to the a man's heart, therefore, Kurtz had touched that kind of darkness, doing all the bad things, and in the end he realized that, and then said ' horror, horror'.

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user890483 | Student, Kindergarten | eNoter

Posted March 19, 2014 at 4:24 PM (Reply #1)

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what kurtz had done bad???will u please explain it.........

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basil1000 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 19, 2012 at 7:27 PM (Answer #4)

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The horor of what he had done. The horror of the crimes he had committed.

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aouninou | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted February 11, 2012 at 2:30 AM (Answer #5)

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Krutz, as an example of the european colonialism, his words " the horror the horror ", may reflect the real picture of the europeans in Africa. thus, he admitted that the real darkness was in the whites' minds. At the end of the story he realized this contradiction knowing that something very bad was waiting for him after his natural life...

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qaiskhraisat13 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted June 7, 2012 at 4:45 AM (Answer #6)

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Maybe he realized how corrupted the Europeans are, and how the Eropeans are the uncivilazed ones, not the Africans.

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user890483 | Student, Kindergarten | eNoter

Posted March 19, 2014 at 4:34 PM (Answer #7)

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it refers to his dull life which he has wasted in struggle to find more and more while losing that he was having.e.g.his fiancee,his world,his home ...

he want to become the god of his own world,in which he can practice his ideas....but that experience was dreadful.That's why he was saying 'the horror'

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