Marlow's Honourable Lie

Marlow’s Honourable Lie
In Joseph Conrad’s novella, Heart of Darkness (1899), two narrators tell the story in
first person, Charlie Marlow, who is a philosophical, independent, and open-minded man
who has just been hired as a riverboat captain, and an anonymous passenger who listens to
his story. He sails across the Congo River in Africa to meet Kurtz, an eloquent, intelligent
man who has leadership, and a great understanding of the power of words. Two set of
minds with two different perspectives and ambitions in life, which Marlow attempts to lead
Kurtz into civilization. Unfortunately, Kurtz succumbs due to his poor health, but before he
left, his final words were, “The horror! The horror!” (116). When Kurtz’s intended asked to
repeat his last words, Marlow lies and tells her that her name was the last word he
pronounced. He protects the intended’s well-being by making an untrue statement that
contradicts his passionate hatred towards lying to bring greater justice than the honest
truth at the end of the novella.
Marlow is a man who stands strongly by his morals and values. He detests and
cannot bear lies, it appalls him, “there is a taint of death, a flavor of mortality in lies” (42).
When pertaining to the truth, it is extremely important for a person to stay true to one’s self;
it would be hypocritical to go against this statement, especially if he is deeply passionate
about it. However, when he meets Kurtz’s fiancée, he realizes how mournful and passionate
she is towards Kurtz. She has requested to hear his final words and claims that she wanted
something to live with (129). By speaking the absolute truth, it will only cause her a life of
endless pain and suffering. In this situation, the truth will only open up hidden meanings
and unnecessary interpretations due to the vagueness or an overwhelming abundance of
meaning of Kurtz’s last words, “The horror! The horror!” (116). There is no absolute
explanation or...