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Word Count: 2,190
Joseph Conrad once wrote the individual consciousness was destined to be in total contradiction to its physical and moral environment Watt 78 the validity of his statement is reflected in the physiological and psychological changes that the characters in both his Heart of Darkness and Coppolas Apocalypse Now undergo as they travel up their respective rivers the Congo and the Nung Each journey up the tropical river is symbolic of a voyage of discovery into the dark heart of man and an encounter with his capacity for evil Phillips 149 In such a voyage the characters regress to their basic instincts as they assimilate themselves into an alien world with its primeval dangers Boyle 96 In Heart of Darkness going up the river is described to be like travelling back to the earliest beginnings of the world when vegetation rioted on the earth and the big trees were kings An empty stream a great silence and impenetrable forest Conrad 55 The river one which resembles an immense snake uncoiled with its tail lost in the depths of the land Conrad 11 is dangerous dark mysterious treacherous and concealed Karl 32 When the characters are unable to withstand the various temptations along this passage they helplessly sell their souls to corruption In both the book and the movie the various events along each individual journey help illustrate not only the physical deterioration of the environment and the characters health but also the psychological degradation of the characters conscience and consciousness In both Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now the various dramatic shifts in the environment from the onset of the river journeys delineate an increasing barbarity and savagery as the characters penetrate deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness The direction of both journeys are formally established as a movement from open and boundless to narrow and restricted spaces Adelman 66 from the light of the sun into the darkness Projected towards the
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