Heart of Darkness

by: Joseph Conrad

Kurtz’s Intended

Kurtz refers to his fiancée as his “Intended,” and Marlow adopts this terminology to talk about the long-suffering woman who has waited years for Kurtz to return to London. Marlow first mentions Kurtz’s Intended two-thirds of the way into his story, during a digression in which he claims that women belong in a separate reality, and that men “must help them to stay in that beautiful world of their own.” When Marlow visits Kurtz’s Intended in London one year after the man’s death, he finds a woman dressed in black who “seemed as though she would remember and mourn [Kurtz] forever.” Like the Russian Trader, the Intended remains completely within Kurtz’s thrall and insists on her continued devotion to him. The Intended’s love for Kurtz astonishes Marlow. On the one hand, Marlow finds her steadfast love naïve, since Kurtz himself viewed the woman as one possession among many other possessions, such as his ivory and Congo station. On the other hand, the Intended’s love confirms Marlow’s earlier suspicion that women live in an alternate reality, and that it is his duty to protect her from the “truth.” Ironically, Marlow does not acknowledge that he has his own idealized version of Kurtz, and that he may have more in common with Kurtz’s Intended than he realizes.