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Why does Marlow go to the Congo? And why is he so obsessed with meeting Kurtz?Yes, he...

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amberkay27 | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 23, 2010 at 9:29 AM via web

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Why does Marlow go to the Congo? And why is he so obsessed with meeting Kurtz?

Yes, he goes there because of his childhood passion of exploring the snake like river and the unknown spots on the map, going deeper than the face of the text why does he go there? And why does he have such an obsession with getting to Kurtz. It's obviously not for the money so why is it?

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mstultz72 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted February 23, 2010 at 9:54 PM (Answer #1)

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The purpose of Marlow's trip to the Congo is manifold.  On a literal level, if he does not go there, we have no story.  On a psychological level, Marlow seeks the heart of darkness, or the deepest recesses of his id (place of secret desires).  On a colonial level, Marlow goes there to help the savages.  Like his Aunt, Marlow believes in British Colonialism as a means of the white man's redemption.  So says essayist and critic Roger Moore:

Thus, Marlow's aunt who arranged his commission with the Company proclaims that the white man's purpose in Africa is to wean the continent's ignorant savages from their ‘‘horrid ways.’’ Marlow himself says that modern efficiency and the ‘‘unselfish idea’’ of conquering the earth, rather than some ‘‘sentimental pretense,’’ is what "redeems’’ the colonial enterprise in which he has been enlisted.

Once there, Marlow's focus shifts on all levels.  What once was white (good) is now black (evil).  He is awakened to the Empire's and the white man's capacity for evil--even his own.  Indeed, he fears soon becoming like Kurtz, who seems to have crossed over to his inner demons entirely.

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