Marlow Vs. Willard Essay, Research Paper
November 7, 1998
Marlow vs. Willard
Charles Marlow and Captain Willard have many characteristics that would make them alike and different. Marlow, from the novel Heart of Darkness, was a man who was on a mission through Cambodia to find Kurtz. Captain Willard, from the movie Apocalypse Now , was a man on a mission to exterminate a fellow member of the United States Armed Forces, Kurtz. Apocalypse Now is a Vietnam parallel of the novel Heart of Darkness. While both these men were on a search for a man, they both went through many difficult hardships on the way.
Both of the men had different backgrounds before they began their journey. Marlow was an experienced sailor, while Willard was an experienced warrior. Willard was a man who went to hell and back in Vietnam. His soul was already corrupted and only got worse while his journey to Kurtz continued. Marlow was a man who just wanted a job. His experience in sailing was the reason he got into his mission. Marlow takes the place of a captain who was killed by natives while on a similar journey. Willard was a man who was picked by the secret service. He was looked at because of his strong history in the military. The history of both men was important for each of them to go their perspective missions.
The surroundings for each man were unique. While both Marlow and Willard had to put up with natives, they had crews that were different. While Marlow had a crew with mostly natives, Willard had a crew of American soldiers who were serving their country. Willard s crew was comprised of mostly young men who had no idea what they were doing. Come on all of you big strong me, writes Joseph McDonald, Uncle Sam needs your help again (Class handouts, McDonald). This would describe the men that were with Willard. None of them knew where they were headed or why they were leaving, all they knew was they were serving their country. Marlow s crew knew that they were trying to figure out what happened to the ivory supply. Marlow had a crew full of mostly natives. Their respective ships were different too. While Marlow cruised on a French steamer, Willard was on a boat provided by the military. Both men had a unique surrounding that helped each respective tale.
Both Marlow and Willard became obsessed with a man by the name of Kurtz. Marlow wanted to meet Kurtz very bad. He was so fascinated with his accomplishments that he wanted to meet him. Willard, on the other hand, was on a mission. He was sent by American Military forces to do one thing, exterminate Kurtz. While he wanted to meet this man, he knew that he would only decide to kill him when he met this man. Willard knew that he would only be able to do what was wanted of him only if this man in his mind was as insane as the military thought. Marlow s intentions were decided before he even met Kurtz. They both had jobs and were expected to do them, but were they going to?
Willard and Marlow both wanted their individual missions. With the help of Marlow s aunt, Marlow was able to get the job as captain of the French steamer. Willard was just in Saigon waiting for a mission. He would take anything that the government would throw at him. Both of them were experts at what they do. While Marlow was an experienced sailor, Willard was an experienced killer. Both men are dedicated to their work. Whether it be killing or sailing both men are dedicated. With the insanity surrounding both men, it was a wonder that they made it through their journeys.
Through out their missions each man hears different items on Kurtz. The minds of Marlow and Willard are both influenced by different people. Marlow hears from the accountant, the manager, the brickmaker, and finally from the Russian all about this unique individual Kurtz. While Willard found out about Kurtz by receiving different packages throughout the journey down the river. What fascinated both Willard and Marlow was the fact that both Kurtz s had big backgrounds and were extremely intelligent. The articles that Willard received were astounding. His qualifications and all his work in the military made Willard wonder why the government would want such a powerful man dead. The other big source where Willard found out many items on Kurtz was by the American photographer in Kurtz s camp.
On each of their journeys, Willard and Marlow observed so many different things going on around them. While Willard made a stop during a battle, he was trying to find who was in charge. All that was heard was gunfire and cries of young men. Forward the Light Brigade (class handout). This was the idea going on around there. The added battles just made the journey for Kurtz more difficult. Marlow encountered a few attacks of his own. The natives didn t take too kindly to his steamer being where it was.
Willard and Marlow finally got the chance they wanted, which was to meet Mr. Kurtz. Marlow found a dying Kurtz while Willard found a Kurtz who was not dying but looked mad. Marlow took Kurtz to the boat, while the rest of Apocalypse Now was at the camp of Kurtz. Marlow could tell that Kurtz was dying while Willard knew what he had to do and that was kill Kurtz. Willard had doubts about killing Kurtz but after seeing Kurtz s camp he knew what had to be done. Marlow knew that Kurtz had a good reason to do what he did but the ways he did them was not moral. The plundering of ivory was not good. Marlow and Willard both went through a substantial change after meeting Kurtz. The mystery that both Marlow and Willard had about Kurtz was all over. They met this man that was on their minds since leaving for their missions. One cannot tell, if Marlow and Willard were disappointed, of the states they found Kurtz. Willard at one point was even considering joining Kurtz. Willard finally realized the power of the jungle and how it took in Kurtz.
Willard and Marlow are both very similar but have differences as well. Throughout Apocalypse Now and Heart of Darkness, each character went through many conflicts. While the sailor and the soldier went on their search to find Kurtz, they encountered many different obstacles. I believe that Willard went through a rougher time then Marlow, but one can only imagine the struggles that encountered Marlow.