Why does Marlow lie to Kurtz's "intended" in Heart of Darkness?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

It seems perfectly natural and appropriate that Marlow should lie to Kurtz's fiancee when she asks him to tell her Kurtz's last words. Heart of Darkness was published over a hundred years ago. In those days women were treated with more deference and delicacy than they are in our modern times. There was a whole code of etiquette involved in men's relations with women. For example, men would either remove their hats or at least tip their hats when addressing ladies. Men would all stand up in a restaurant if a woman rose to leave the table, and they would stand up again when she returned and remain standing until she was seated. Some vestiges of such formal manners are still to be seen in public today, but times are changing, not necessarily for the better. There were, of course, many subjects that men could not discuss in the presence of ladies, and certain words they would never ever use. It is hard to imagine Marlow blurting out the truth that Kurtz's last words were "The horror! The...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 728 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team