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Comparison of Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now

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Essay title: Comparison of Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now

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Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now

Heart of Darkness, a novel by Joseph Conrad, and Apocalypse Now, a

movie by Francis Ford Coppola can be compared and contrasted in many ways.

By focusing on their endings and on the character of Kurtz, contrasting the

meanings of the horror in each media emerges. In the novel the horror

reflects Kurtz tragedy of transforming into a ruthless animal whereas in

the film the horror has more of a definite meaning, reflecting the war and

all the barbaric fighting that is going on.

Conrad's Heart of Darkness, deals with the account of Marlow, a

narrator of a journey up the Congo River into the heart of Africa, into the

jungle, his ultimate destination. Marlow is commissioned as an ivory agent

and is sent to ivory stations along the river. Marlow is told that when he

arrives at the inner station he is to bring back information about Kurtz,

the basis of this comparison and contrast in this paper, who is the great

ivory agent, and who is said to be sick. As Marlow proceeds away to the

inner station "to the heart of the mighty big river.... resembling an

immense snake uncoiled, with its head in the sea, its body at rest curving

afar over a vast country and its tail lost in the depths of the land"

(Dorall 303), he hears rumors of Kurtz's unusual behavior of killing the

Africans. The behavior fascinates him, especially when he sees it first

hand: "and there it was black, dried, sunken, with closed eyelids- a head

that seemed to sleep at the top of that pole, and with the shrunken dry

lips showing a narrow white line of the teeth, was smiling too, smiling

continuously at some endless and jocose dream of that eternal

slumber"(Conrad 57). These heads that Marlow sees are first hand evidence

of Kurtz's unusual behavior. The novel ends with Kurtz "gradually engulfing

the atrocities of the other agents in his own immense horror"(Dorall 303).

At his dying moment, Kurtz utters "The Horror! The Horror!', which for the

novel are words reflecting the tragedy of Kurtz, and his transformation

into an animal.

Apocalypse Now is a movie that is similarly structured to the book

but has many different meanings. The movie takes place during the Vietnam

War. The narrator is Captain Willard, who is given a mission to locate and

kill Colonel Kurtz, who is said to be in Cambodia killing the Vietcong,

South Vietnamese and the Cambodians. Willard journeys up the Nung river to

find Kurtz, and eventually finds and kills him. Kurtz's words "The Horror!,

The Horror!" in the film have a different meaning from the novel.

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