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Heart of Darkness

  • Date Submitted: 08/29/2013 04:33 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 81.3 
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The Truth Behind the Lie
What is white lie? According to the Oxford Dictionary, a white lie is a harmless or trivial lie, especially one told to avoid hurting someone’s feelings. (The Oxford Dictionary, 1998). In the novella Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, the protagonist of the story, Marlow, lies to Kurtz’s fiancée about Kurtz’s last word. He tells a lie because Marlow does not have the courage to face the darkness in people’s heart, it is a white lie, a lie that keeps Kurtz’s image in everyone’s heart, and it gives Kurtz’s Intended a faith that supports her to live for the rest of her life.

White lie is always fascinating. At the end of the story, after Kurtz is died and Marlow returns from Congo, Marlow goes and visits Kurtz’s intended. While talking, she asks Marlow what are Kurtz’s last words before he dies. Instead of telling her the truth that Kurtz’s last words were “The Horror, The Horror” (Conrad, 130), he tells her that his last word is her name. The lie that Marlow tells her is a white lie, and it is beautiful. When Kurtz’s fiancée asks Marlow for Kurtz’s last word, she says “His last word—to live with,” she murmured “Don’t you understand I loved him—I loved him—I loved him!”(145). It shows Kurtz’s last word is very important to her; she needs a faith to live with for the rest of her life. After Kurtz’s fiancée hears the lie that Marlow tells her, she cries out “I knew it -- I was sure!”(145). This illustrates that it is the answer in her heart; she believes that Kurtz loves her very much, that his last word must be her name. In addition, this lie keeps Kurtz the ideal man in her eyes. By telling this lie, Kurtz’s intended still has that ideal image of him. She whispers, “Men looked up to him,—his goodness shone in every act.”(143). This shows Kurtz is the idealist man in her heart, just like a hero in her heart. Marlow is attempting to keep Kurtz idealized by telling this lie, and makes the readers feel sympathetic for Kurtz and his...


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