Kurtz used to be a civilized and educated European as well as a capable and outstanding manager of the Company. Like the other young men, he enters into the heart of the African continent, the forest, his heart filled with a burning desire. However, his greed gets the best of him, and corrupts his soul. He makes himself the king of the forest by taking advantage of the native’s ignorance. He wanted to conquer the darkness – a ‘unknown’ continent full of chances and adventures, but was consumed by the darkness. Deep in his soul, the western culture he belongs to and black savagery he is exposed to pulls each other apart, pushing himself to embody ‘schizophrenia’. On the outside, he uses ferocity and cruelty to cover his mental fragility, but such action just perfectly shows his misery of struggling to survive.
I saw the thin arm extended commandingly, the lower jaw moving, the eyes of that apparition shining darkly far in its bony head that nodded with grotesque jerks. Kurtz – Kurtz – that means short in German – don’t it? Well, the same was as true as everything else in his life – and death… His covering had fallen off, and his body emerged from it pitiful and appalling as from a winding-sheet. I could see the cage of his ribs all astir, the bones of his arm waving,. It was as though an animated image of death carved out of old ivory had been shaking its hand with menaces at a a motionless crowd of men made of dark and glittering bronze. (Joseph Conrad 136)
“he cried out twice, a cry that was no more than a breath – The horror! The horror!” His last words is with rich discussion and reflection. As a typical symbolic figure, Kurtz represents the people who intend to escape from the shackles and limitations of civilization, and fulfill himself in a savage world. But as many others did, Kurtz failed. His failure reflects European’s disillusionment of self-deception as well as human beings’ descent into the deep sea of desires and lies.
My-intended, my station, my career, my career, my ideas—these were the subjects for he occasional utterances of elevated sentiments. The shade of the original Kurtz frequented the bedside of the hollow sham, whose fate it was to be buried presently in the mould of primeval earth. but both the diabolic love and the mearthly hate of the mysteries it had penetrated fought for the possession of that soul satiated with primitive emotions, avid of lying fame, of sham distinction, of all the appearances of success and power. (147)
In the middle of nowhere, where one can’t even hear a advice from one’s neighbor, self-fulfillment is not showing one’s motivated soul, but the darkness of one’s soul.