Heart of darkness and apocalypse now

‘ Heart of Darkness’ and ‘ Apocalypse Now Similarities and Differences Heart of Darkness, written in 1899, is about the journey of an Englishman into the forests of Congo during the European colonization period. The central character, Marlow, witnesses the atrocities inflicted on the Africans by the imperialists. Similarly, Apocalypse Now takes place during the Vietnam War. In the move, a Captain named Willard is sent to Cambodia to find and kill Colonel Walter Kurtz who has gone insane on reaching Vietnam. Admittedly, both the novel and the film have the conflict between the civilized and the savage as the central theme. While one depicts Congo, the other depicts Vietnam. Both the works tend to depict the way civilization finds itself alienated in the wilderness.
In broad terms, the main similarity between the works is seen in the way the so-called civilized people have got an uncivilized primitive in them that comes out when they reach the wilderness even for a short period of time. For example, in the Heart of Darkness, Marlow first sees the shores of Africa with a sense of fear and dislike. As Marlow travels into the jungle, he develops the feeling that he was getting savage. Thus, as Kesselring states, one gets the idea that the man still possesses the primordial urge to be the same barbaric humans of the jungle; for example, Marlow describes a Kurtz who is free from any restraints, and who unleashes his primordial urge to kill and to enjoy total freedom. There Marlow sees a large number of heads displayed on posts that shows the kind of primitive life Kurtz lived (24-25).
Here, it is worth trying to identify the reason behind the madness of both the Kurtz, and there comes the startling realization that it is the result of their inability to come into terms with the native culture and lifestyle. For example, in the movie, one can see a Kurtz telling Willard about the Special Forces going into the village inoculating the children for polio, followed by the visit of communists who cut children’s inoculated hands off. This basic and barbaric wilderness makes Kurtz insane, and soon, he becomes a savage himself.
In total, one can say that in both the cases, there is the tendency to show that the European-African and American-Vietnam conflicts symbolize the conflict between the civilized and the savage. In both the cases, there is the realization that civilization is the result of the complex web of rules, regulations and codes of conduct that the modern societies have developed. In addition is the acceptance that there is a savage in every civilized human being. Thirdly, in both the cases, a movement away from the civilized world means a travel back to savagery. In other words, when there is no boundaries set by the civilized society, the evil is unleashed from the civilized man.
To sum up, one reaches the conclusion that man has never changed. Only the society makes him civilized and the force of civility remains only in the urbane. When man gets isolated, and when he reaches the nature back where no boundaries exist, he goes back to his primeval urges and lust. Thus, one can undoubtedly say that man has not changed, and at least, that is the basic theme behind the novel and the movie.
Works Cited
Kesselring 97, Laura. ” Civilization and Savagery in Joseph Conrads Heart of Darkness and Francis Ford Coppolas Apocalypse Now”. Undergraduate Review, (1997). 10: 1, Article 6. 1-7.