The "heart of darkness" can be viewed as simply the geographic location of the Congo. American psychoanalytic critic, Frederick R. Karl, reviews the historical facts of the geographical location as the external African jungle which is modern Zaire.
But the "heart of darkness" does not only refer to the wilderness but also symbolizes the character of Kurtz that has become savage and corrupted in the jungle.
Absent the structure of society, its harsh environment pushed Kurtz to insanity and made him succumb to its powers.
". . . the wilderness . . . seemed to draw him to its pitiless breast by the awakening of forgotten and brutal instincts, by the memory of gratified and monstrous passions . . . this alone had beguiled his unlawful soul beyond the bounds of permitted aspirations." (112)
3. What is Willard's/Marlow's mission Why does it cause the protagonist inner conflict when his commander tells him to "terminate (Kurtz) with extreme prejudice" How is this conflict eventually resolved in the climax of this story
Captain Willard is sent to a dangerous mission to seek out and assassinate the mysterious renegade Colonel Kurtz who has set himself up as a god among a local tribe. The army believes that Kurtz has gone completely insane and Willard's job is to terminate him.
Along the way, Willard hesitated as to whether he will kill Kurtz or join him. As Willard continues his journey he becomes more and more like the man he was sent to kill. His own descent to madness fueled his understanding behind Kurtz's insanity.
Willard/Marlow undertakes both an outer and an inner journey. The outer journey takes him into the heart of Africa, where he encounters colonial violence. ...