Why Does Kurtz Fail in "Heart of Darkness"? The conflict between Marlow and Kurtz is of a spiritual nature. Marlow has "looked over the edge" into himself as Kurtz, but Kurtz failed. Why?
Kurtz fails because he succumbs to the lure of absolute power. He throws off all vestiges of civilization and its moderating influence. His physical isolation as a European white man among the "savages" as well as his technological and scientific knowledge make him a "God" among the natives, and this power corrupts him and allows him to corrupt in turn. His only redemption is that, at the end of his life, he sees the "horror" he has become and how far he has sunk into depravity. This realization occurs only after his physical isolation is diminished by the journey back to the mouth of the river in the company of other "civilized" Europeans.
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