Course Hero. "Heart of Darkness Study Guide." Course Hero. 28 July 2016. Web. 14 Nov. 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Heart-of-Darkness/>.
Course Hero. (2016, July 28). Heart of Darkness Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved November 14, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Heart-of-Darkness/
(Course Hero, 2016)
Course Hero. "Heart of Darkness Study Guide." July 28, 2016. Accessed November 14, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Heart-of-Darkness/.
Course Hero, "Heart of Darkness Study Guide," July 28, 2016, accessed November 14, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Heart-of-Darkness/.
In the year following Kurtz's death, Marlow decides to return his letters and the photograph to Kurtz's "Intended"—his fiancée. Soon everything Marlow has and knows of Kurtz will have passed through his hands and be gone: elements of both his material and spiritual being. Marlow wants to give up his memories of Kurtz as well.
He visits the Intended and is led into a lofty drawing room, where she is dressed in black for mourning. She is sweet and genuine and speaks highly of Kurtz and of the great loss she and the world now suffer. She asks Marlow to tell her Kurtz's dying words, and Marlow lies. He tells her that Kurtz's last words were her name.
As Marlow stands on the threshold of the young woman's door, he imagines the beating of a drum, "like the beating of a heart—the heart of a conquering darkness." Marlow wants to give up the memories of Kurtz and his experiences in Africa, but they are stronger than ever. The jungle triumphs not just over Kurtz but over Marlow. Indeed, the jungle is Marlow's antagonist, and there is "a moment of triumph for the wilderness."
Marlow's conversation with the young woman is packed with verbal ironies. She does not know how true her words are when she says, "He died as he lived." The words are true, but they mean the opposite of what she thinks they mean. Her beloved lived in depravity toward the end of his life, so he died as he lived. Marlow's words complete the irony, for he tells her, "His end was in every way worthy of his life."
Marlow's lie at the end of the story is important because it reveals how much Marlow has changed. Despite his earlier proclamation that he hates lies more than anything, when confronted with Kurtz's fiancée, he understands the value of a lie for protection of the heart. He cannot repeat Kurtz's self-judgment and his condemnation of his life and his actions, so he lies out of kindness. All Kurtz asks for, Marlow muses, is justice, and now Marlow betrays him by lying. The woman will not know the lesson of Kurtz's life. But, says Marlow, "I could not tell her. It would have been too dark."