Kurtz Sacrifice

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Westby Caspersen November 17, 2015 The Price of Sacrifice Sometimes what is sacrificed is much more valuable then what is gained in return. Kurtz’s desire to become godlike and his hunger for absolute power cause him to sacrifice his humanity in order to accrue more riches. Kurtz deserts his virtuous ideas and potential to do great things due to an addiction to wealth, and as a result, becomes a slave to the dark wilderness and his own lack of restraint. Before his sacrifice, Kurtz resembled a light in the darkness; he saw the cruelty and evil consuming Africa and decided to try to end it. However, his tragic flaw of hubris led him to be overly ambitious in thinking that he could wield absolute power over the iniquities of Africa and…show more content…
In his pamphlet, he says that whites “must necessarily appear to them savages in the nature of supernatural beings—we approach them with the might of a deity…By simple exercise of our will we can exert a power for good practically unbounded.” (92) The fault here is that with unbounded power comes an irresistible temptation to commit crimes without consequence. Kurtz succeeds in amassing the power, but the wilderness wins as it forces him to pay the cost of surrendering his virtue and gives him power which eventually contaminates him. He does not use his authority to help the natives, but instead in his maddened state, he writes “in an unsteady hand” (92) his new philosophy: “Exterminate all the brutes!” (92) Kurtz’s hubris in thinking that he could overcome the wilderness without sacrificing anything leads him to attempt to conquer the darkness of the world, and then, as evidenced by his change in philosophy, become an agent of the cruelty he once opposed. Kurtz does come close to reaching his goal. He claims “I was on the threshold of great things” (123), but the wilderness wins over him, he enters a bewildered and wilder stare where his most sinful impulses control him. The lure of attaining more power and more ivory is too much for Kurtz who must sacrifice his virtue to satisfy his addictions. “The wilderness had patted him on the head, and, behold, it was like a ball—an ivory ball; it had caressed him, and—lo!—he had withered; it had taken him, loved him, embraced him, got into his veins, consumed his flesh, and sealed his soul to its own.” (89) When Marlow finds him sprawled pathetically in the woods, he tries “to break the spell—the heavy mute spell of the wilderness—that seemed to draw him into its pitiless breast by the awakening of forgotten

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