In regards to Heart of Darkness, are humans damned to madness of power?Kurtz enjoys the position of power and he is a god for the natives.  Marlow enjoys the position of Buddha telling the story...

In regards to Heart of Darkness, are humans damned to madness of power?

Kurtz enjoys the position of power and he is a god for the natives.  Marlow enjoys the position of Buddha telling the story to sailors. 

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Certainly, this is one of the notions posited in Conrad's work about the nature of power.  Kurtz's elevation to a god by the indigenous people has helped to feed his own ego, his own sense of power enhanced by the ability to act without any restraints in both what can be done and what he wants to be done.  Kurtz's power complex might be more reflective of what happens in any setting without limitations and boundaries within which individual action must operate.  While there is an idea that Kurtz's true nature is revealed in the Congo, the larger issue might be that there is a side of human nature which has to be bound by some level of limitations and parameters in order to prevent a moral abyss where everything is permissible.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

"Absolute power corrupts absolutely".  There are countless examples in both dictatorship and war where this is true, and where very few humans are strong enough personally and emotionally to be able to prevent it from happening to them.

Man is imperfect, as we all know.  To concentrate the kind of power a dictator has, or in Kurtz' case, the kind of power a warlord has into the hands of a single person is always inherently dangerous, and usually produces the same result.  The most successful governments in the world have instituted checks and balances to prevent the concentrations of such power for this very reason.  It is a dark side of human nature, unfortunately.