Marlow's Feelings on Kurtz

After Marlow has the conversation with the manager about Kurtz ultimately doing more harm than good, he states, “It seemed to me I had never breathed an atmosphere so vile, and I turned mentally to Kurtz to relief – positively for relief.” Explain this quote in the context of the novella – Why is Kurtz ultimately the lesser of the evils?

At this point, in Heart of Darkness, Marlow, the main character, finally understands that entire environment is evil. He believes that it is so evil that he turns to something less corrupt, like Kurtz, for relief. Joseph Conrad put something like such in the book to be able to contrast evil vs. good. After the manager had said so, Marlow still believed that “Mr. Kurtz is a remarkable man.” (pg. 76)

Conrad possibly may have made Kurtz as a foil of Marlow. Or Marlow the foil of Kurtz. But regardless, it makes sense when Marlow backs up Kurtz because they are in the same. The book describes how Marlow slowly changes into a form of the corrupted Kurtz. But stops before getting there completely. Similarly to Kurtz, Marlow has a certain amount of respect towards the native Africans. He admires their strengths, physically and understands their worries and troubles, especially at the Outer Station.

Nevertheless, currently, society wouldn’t deem this correct. But Marlow, like Kurtz, does not that the Africans would be equal to a white man. He buys in a way of trying to “civilizing” them. This shows the ugly truth of how he is at loss of a cultural identity. Marlow also shares the same interest in the different languages just like Kurtz. Kurtz’ evil may be bad but due to the way he foils Marlow, Marlow looks at his evil as it good and almost gives him a sense of relief in comparison to the other evil of the environment around him.