Remember a post of mine entitled Forest, That Sways Here that linked Mahler Symphony No.8 to Heart of Darkness? Well, I’m about to do the same thing not in a auditory sense, but with context.
The second movement of Mahler’s symphony, part of which was discussed in Forest, That Sways Here, uses text from the ending of the Goethe’s Faust, a work closely related to Heart of Darkness. It had been brought up in class a while ago that both Heart of Darkness and Dante’s Inferno are Faustian works of literature. I had learned about Faust through my obesession with Mahler 8, though not quite extensively as would like, so I looked into the work and some interesting connections between Faust and Heart of Darkness.
Faust is a journey through heaven, earth, and like Heart of Darkness, hell, literally and the downfall of its protagonist, Faust, who had been God’s favorite human being, initiates this journey. Much like Faust, Kurtz of Heart of Darkness undergoes similar circumstances. Similarly, Kurtz has a downfall of his own in the company hierarchy given his change in colonization methods. Instead of slowly colonizing Africa with “civilization” and “light”, the most frequently used justifications of imperialism like he had originally planned to, over the course of his time in the Congo, he ignores the protocol of keep up appearances and used brute force.