In Joseph Conrad’s novel, Heart of Darkness, the main character, Marlow, says “You know, I hate, detest, and can’t bear a lie.” Previous to this statement, Marlow was speaking of a scotch sailmaker who had believed there were people on Mars.
Marlow used this story as a way to say that his outlook on lying was very narrow because he believed that every lie was corrupting and essentially took part of your soul. The audience may believe that Marlow is trying to stay as good or pure as he can but they should recognize the lies that are being told around him as well as what he has done to feel this way. A few lines down from the statement, Marlow conveys the feelings of his touch with darkness by speaking of his perceived influence in Europe and feeling as though he was helping Kurtz when Marlow was with the witches. He considers it a close call in Europe because he left the young boy to his own imagination rather than correcting him and telling the truth. Doing what he thought was right at the time for someone who was still only a name is considered by Marlow as touching the darkness. Those in the audience would see that as a split second decision that could turn positive or negative. Perhaps for marlow, the chance of a negative outcome was too great for him to ignore.
His statement reflects someone who sounds like a saint. An individual who would never lie, speak ill of someone, or be caught in the wrong situation. To contradict these thoughts of the audience, Marlow goes on to says that he is not the most honest man but is hesitant to lie for himself or anyone else. Surrounding Marlow, are events happening that would not be wished upon many people. The lie he tells to Kurtz’s intended in the end is so shocking because for a man who hates and detests lies, he spoke easily to the woman, of words Kurtz did not say. To do this shows that Marlow will preserve the image and memory of someone for the sake of further questions, unexplainable horrors, and sanity. Marlow met the darkness of Kurtz and touched the darkness when he lie, but after everything he has seen and heard, he still has good in his heart to respect those who mourn the dead.