In Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Marlow chooses to go against his beliefs by lying to Kurtz’s intended. Although Marlow feels that lies are detestable, he is justified in falsifying Kurtz’s final words to the Intended. Marlow feels that there is a taint of death and a flavor of mortality in lies, comparing lying to biting into something rotten. However, much of the world is filled with deceitfulness and lying, as it is almost a custom in the man’s world. Lying makes Marlow physically ill, therefore to lie would be to give up his convictions and submit to the reality that the world is characterized by ying.
Outside of the men’s world is the women’s world, epitomized by the Ladies’ Drawing Room. Here, men and women are on their best behavior and manners are crucial. Inside the Ladies’ Drawing Room, there is no sense of reality, deceitfulness or selfishness, as seen in the man’s world. Here, the women are ignorant to the issues in the real world. Men come to the Ladies’ Drawing room to escape the harsh reality that awaits them outside. Society was dependent on the Ladies’ Drawing Room as an escape from reality. Following Kurtz’s death, Marlow goes to see the Intended, where she asks to ear Kurtz’s final words, “The horror! The horror! ” These words condemn mankind in the realization that all men have the capacity to do evil.
Marlow lies to the Intended telling her that his final words were her name, which suits the ignorant, fairy tale-like world of the Ladies’ Drawing Room. As Marlow referred to earlier, he hates the taint of death and the mortality of lies. Had Marlow told the Intended Kurtz’s actual final words, the taint of death would have hung over the truth. Marlow escaped having to bear the weight of this truth by lying, the more moral option of the two.