Is Marlow at peace?

We spent a great deal of time talking about Kurtz’s death scene and his final moments and Marlow’s reaction to that time, but I couldn’t help but feel like we didn’t talk a whole lot about Marlow at the very end of the novel.  Do you think he is at peace with everything that has happened to him?  Conrad uses the description of a meditating Buddha for Marlow, but do you think he has found peace or made peace with everything?

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One Response to Is Marlow at peace?

  1. Steph Roman says:

    I don’t have my text in front of me, but I’m not convinced that Marlow is.

    He went to the Congo and came back a very changed man. I think what he witnessed there and what he saw in Kurtz broke his spirit a bit. At least temporarily, if it doesn’t show itself throughout.

    For instance, what’s really inspiring Marlow to tell his story to the others? Does he do it just to pass the time? Or does he do so because it unsettles him, and perhaps talking about it to the others can help relieve his tension?

    The reason I’d say Marlow does not seem to be at peace would almost certainly come in the scene with Kurtz’s Intended. Marlow lies to her. He seems horrified that he does, even if it’s to protect her. He gets choked up about it. I don’t think he regrets it, but it bothers him, and that’s not the sign of a man at peace with himself.

    And also, to compare Marlow to a Buddha is a bit misleading. (Though I may be overgeneralizing a bit) Buddhism is essentially a worldview of constant suffering and constant reincarnation. The Buddha is the teacher who guided people to leave worldly suffering behind and reach a state of Nirvana (breaking free from the cycle of rebirth). Marlow may in fact be attempting to do that kind of thing by telling the Kurtz story to the others, but I don’t think Marlow’s achieved that state of Nirvana, since worldly things–Kurtz’s words–will trouble him for the rest of his days.

    Don’t know if that answered your question or not, but that’s the interpretation I would make. Somebody could write their paper about the Marlow/ Buddha connection.

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