In shows how diseased his mind had become over

In the
novella Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, Kurtz’s physical
illness is only a window that shows how diseased
his mind had become over time.  Kurtz’s madness and savageness made
him physically ill because he was starting to see into the depths of his
own soul and realizes that the same thing could happen to anyone, and this
realization can change the perspective of humanity on Colonialism. His last
words show evidence of this because he is being forced to leave Africa, which
he sees as his own sanctuary, and there he had the highest power. As
a person approaches death, they may catch a glimpse of heaven or hell. In
Kurtz’s situation, he had seen hell because even though he was described as a
remarkable man, his soul had become empty because it has been damaged
by greed and his lack of morality. The power
of the deep forests and the environment can really affect the mental state of
any man because of the unpredictability of nature and the people within it. Colonialism
is the main reason for these effects. Kurtz had no restraint but the
‘primitives’ still had a sense of decency, which was another reason he had lost
his sanity and become a savage. He could not handle the animalistic nature
surrounding him. Instead of sticking to his original task, he has been
distracted because of the environment around him. The people who claimed to
know Kurtz contradicted each other since they all described him differently,
from how Marlow would describe him. Marlow gives Kurtz a frame narrative from
remarkable to mad. Kurtz was the perfect embodiment of how
investigating the heart of darkness can have a big impact on humanity. “Heart
of Darkness” is not only referring to the place inside Africa but it also shows
the evil side of European Colonialism. Instead
of becoming the light in this so-called
“heart of darkness”, he did more harm than good, causing him to lose all
sanity, morality, and his previously impeccable reputation. Kurtz’s passion for
ivory was good and bad at the same time. The amount of ivory he was gathering
was very good. However, the way Kurtz was obtaining these goods made him act
like a madman.  Kurtz’s obsession for
ivory was one of the reasons he’s lost all that is good in his life. His
methods were putting the Company at risk and his own reputation was sinking
down, but he does not care because he’s become mad.

Kurtz went from being “the
chief of the inner station” (Conrad 29) to an ill man who ruled the natives. He
went to Africa in hopes of civilizing the natives but was immediately blinded
by the power and he then continued to exploit the natives. This kind of
exploitation is what made Kurtz become a savage himself. His mental insanity
has made him bodily sick because of a ‘seeing’ he has made into his own soul.
Africa itself is full of mental detonation and unknown diseases back in the
day. It is interpreted that Kurtz saw the corruption and depravity of humanity
and how they will fail to realize what his symbolic death means. The notes in
the “International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs” shows a very
clear way of Kurtz evolving into a madman. Charles Marlow said that “It made me
tingle with enthusiasm” (Conrad 63) from the beginning of reading the article,
but as the article comes to an end, it only had a postscriptum saying,
“Exterminate all the brutes!” (Conrad 63). It represents his declining sanity.

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 As he
spent more time in Africa with the savages, the more he became mad, and the
more he became mad, the closer he was to death. Kurtz’s last words were, “The
horror! The horror!” (Conrad 90). This is a cry pain and surrender for Kurtz. Marlow
described Kurtz’s last words as, “the expression of somber pride, of ruthless
power, of craven terror—of an intense and hopeless despair” (Conrad 90) leaving
room for audience interpretation. Even though Kurtz was expecting death from
his illness, his life still flashed before his eyes. He saw, “some image, at
some vision” (Conrad 90) and this is heaven or hell. Kurtz had been described
as a remarkable man throughout the novel by people in Europe who knew him
before his voyages. However, by the end of the book, his soul was empty because
he was too greedy and manipulative. His madness also represents amorality and
his overall character represents all that is bad in colonialism. The glimpse of
hell made him scream his last words knowing that he could potentially stay down
there forever, and this would make him suffer in life and death.

Colonialism
is the exploitation of resources and ethics to one country by another and the
dominant country extends control and authority over the weaker people, as well
as their territories. This
colonial exploitation that Kurtz tried to force to the Africans, happened to
him in reverse. Instead of him civilizing Africa, he became a savage himself.
Since his original plan to colonize the natives did not work out, he formed a
bond with the savages causing Kurtz to be their god-like figure. When going
into the heart of Africa, Kurtz didn’t 
know what awaits him when he gets there. This unawareness affected his
mental state because he didn’t feel like he belonged in Africa with the
natives. When Kurtz obtained this power, he became amoral and had no restraint.
His judgment became poor and he was not as well-spoken as he was before
entering the Congo. The natives were the ones who held back from cannibalizing
and ate hippotamus meat instead of human flesh. Kurtz however, attacked every
village insight in search of ivory. Marlow himself keeps saying “Restraint!
What possible restraint?” (Conrad 52). Even though Marlow did not know the
Kurtz who went into the heart of darkness, he still had respect for his
reputation as the person who walked out of it. Kurtz’s failure to not succumb
to the animalistic behaviors and beastly morals of the savages is what lead to
his madness and bodily sickness.

Everything we know about Kurtz has always
been secondhand. Characters who knew him completely contradicted with his mad
and savage traits. His whole character is a frame narrative giving the effect
that he was a nice “remarkable man” in Europe, but once joined the Company, he became
mad and insane. He lost all that mattered to him because he lost himself in the
deep ends of the jungle. The term ‘darkness’ is referred to by Marlow as the
heart of the jungle itself. Darkness is used metaphorically and symbolically
throughout the book, rather than specifically. It is what’s eating away
everything that is left of Kurtz’s sanity and is the cause of his destroyed
soul.  Kurtz’s character is the perfect
example of what happens when humans try to colonialize their ethics on to the
natives. Instead of being light to the people and the place itself, the
distraction given to him by greed and amorality made him do more harm than
good. The meaning of ivory has also been changed. Over time, Kurtz didn’t see
it as a precious resource anymore, but instead, he saw it as an excuse to
attack villages and use his superiority. Even though collecting loads ivory
gave a good name to the people back in Europe, his madness did not make him see
how this is doing harm to his reputation.

Kurtz’s poor mental being reflects on his
physical sickness because Colonialism is merely a sad tragic. It has given him
realizations of how humanity views Colonialism differently and that he is the
representative of all that is to fear about it. His madness had led him to his
death and eternity in hell. Kurtz underestimated the natives and he had to pay
the price leaving him with no restraint, nor morality. He had lost himself in
the process of trying to obtain the most ivory in the district.