Kurtz is the man who Marlow searches for through the Congo. Marlow’s search develops into an obsession and when the search has ended, he only finds a shadow of a man that was once Kurtz. Kurtz was a man who had achieved great things in his life, inspiring each person he had come across and was expected to accomplish more. He came into the Congo with great plans for civilizing the natives, however he became greedy, which ended up being the subject of his own demise.
‘I had immense plans… I was on the threshold of great things’.
Kurtz’s main characteristics were his ability to talk passionately to people and inspire them with his words. He had a charisma that made people feel that he was some kind of a genius. Kurtz was a very talented human being, gifted in many areas. He could not be pinned down to a specific talent. He was seen as a great musician to his cousin that Marlow visits, a brilliant politician and leader of men to the journalist and a genius and humanitarian to his intended.
Marlow views him as a universal genius. Kurtz is a round character, who is explored deeply and at times, almost to deep.
He is neither the protagonist nor the antagonist, but he is a complex main character within the novel. In places where Kurtz is described, there is imagery of darkness and foreboding evil. Kurtz was an exaggeration of the white people who had come to Africa for money. Kurtz’s greed for ivory became extreme and even made him violent and aggressive. He was the idea of the self-made man that was the American dream. It was thought that any man could travel and be wealthy materially and spiritually. He was living that dream for a while, before it swallowed him whole.
His ego inflated and he believed himself to be a superior being such as God. He let himself be worshipped among the natives and encircled himself with darkness and evil. Hence, his ideals had changed from his journey through Africa. And he soon became one of the natives. Releasing himself from civilization and restraint. When Marlow finally reached Kurtz, Kurtz had become hollow. Kurtz had reached insanity. He was no longer the great man he had once been. ‘He was hollow at the core. ‘ Through conversing with the natives and immersing himself with them, Kurtz lost his restraint, which he had learned through civilization.
By taking part in native ceremonial gatherings, he had lost his soul and he had succumbed to darkness. ‘How many powers of darkness claimed him for their own. ‘ The reason for his behaviour was his greed for ivory. He gave up his soul only for the sole purpose of money and success. However, his actions are justified as Marlow expresses that leaving a man in a jungle with nothing but himself and the desire to make money, will make him go mad. Without restraint from his own culture, Kurtz’s basic instincts were released. Kurtz’s appearance had dramatically altered as well.
He was extremely thin and had a baldhead; he had also lost the ability to walk. From being a God to the natives, he soon comes to despise them. He sees them as rebels, which is why he has stuck heads on sticks outside his hut. ‘Exterminate the brutes’ In the end, Kurtz dies just after he has come to realize that he has become the heart of darkness. He is an embodiment of evil and he highlights this by saying, ‘The horror! The horror! ‘ Kurtz was an imperialist who was a symbol of colonization, and a symbol of the jungle.