In Heart of Darkness What do Marlow's last words refer to?
In Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, Marlow is the principal narrator and he satisfies his obsession with deepest Africa by journeying into its depths and returning to tell his story, barely surviving in the process. Marlow's last words refer to his recognition that different people have different realities and mankind can only hope to exist if there is a mutual acceptance of each other's individual and collective needs and a co-operation that requires a deep understanding and a universal perspective. This is why he feels justified in lying to Kurtz's fiance. The pain he feels is the crushing knowledge of mankind's desperation and darkness, his selfishness and self-absorption and the possibility that life is nothing more than "that mysterious arrangement of merciless logic for a futile purpose." He resents any sense of normality as if people are merely "intruders whose knowledge of life was to me an irritating pretense, because I felt so sure they could not possibly know the things I knew." Marlow is somewhat overwhelmed by the responsibility of talking to Kurtz's fiance as if "the heavens would fall upon my head," and his words reveal how he struggles and justifies his actions. He knows that what he tells her may seem like a "trifle" to the uninformed but that is because they have no concept of "the horror."
Marlow is conflicted by his fascination with, and disgust for, Kurtz although Marlow does apparently remain loyal to him, even though this representative of the "International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs" as he initially sets out to be, is a savage himself....
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