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Comparative Essay of Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now

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Comparative Essay of Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now

The ties between Joseph Conrad's book, “Heart of Darkness” and Francis
Coppola's movie, “Apocalypse Now” are unmistakable. Apocalypse Now's correctness in
following the story line of the Heart of Darkness is amazing although the settings of each story are from completely different location and time periods. From the jungle of the Congo in Africa to the Nung river in Vietnam, Joseph Conrad's ideals are not lost. In both the book and the movie, the ideas of good and evil, whiteness, darkness, and racism are clear. Also, characterization in both the novel and the movie are very similar. Both The Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now examine the good and evil in human beings.

In “The Heart of Darkness”, Marlow speaks of Fresleven who was killed in a fight
with some natives. The argument between Fresleven and the natives was over some
chickens, and Fresleven felt he had been ripped off in the deal. Marlow describes
Fresleven as "…the gentlest, quietest creature that ever walked on two legs."(p. 13
Conrad) However, later in the same paragraph Marlow says,"…he probably felt the need
at last of asserting his self-respect in some way. Therefore he whacked the old nigger
mercilessly."(p. 13 Conrad) Soldiers in combat are forced to bring the evil within
themselves out every time they go into battle.

The scene in Apocalypse Now where Captain Willard first meets Lt. Colonel
Kilgore, show’s the power at which combat has in bringing out the dark side in humans.
The attitude the soldiers have towards their enemy in the scene shows how evil humans
can be. Kilgore demonstrates his dark side when he tosses the "death cards" on to the
bodies of the dead Viet...


... middle of paper ...


...ly in order to agree with the times,
but deep in the heart of it its the same. Kurtz in both cases is the heart of the evil, in the novel he spreads his evil in the ways he runs the ivory trade and enslaves the natives. In the movies Kurtz shows his evil in the way he begins his own colony and becomes a devil god, using human examples of death to govern his "tribe". Another similarity is the way Coppola has pictured military machinery that has been broken down. This is a way of symbolizing the breakdown of the white man. The American strength is in it's machinery according to the movie, and the book uses a civilized way of life as the strength of the white man, in both cases they were conquered. Both the novel and the movie Apocalypse Now show clearly that evil does not control, and cruelty of other people is just not the way to see something through, a dark dream.


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