Kurtz, like Marlow,originally came to the Congo with noble intentions. He thought that each ivory station should stand like a beacon light, offering a better way of life to the natives. Kurtz mother was half-English and his father was half-French. He was educated in England and speaks English. The culture and civilization of Europe have contributed to the making of Kurtz; he is an orator, writer, poet, musician, artist, politician, ivory procurer, and chief agent of the ivory company's Inner Station at Stanley Falls. In short, he is a "universal genius"; however, he also described as a "hollow man," a man without basic integrity or any sense of social responsibility.

At the end of his descent into the lowest pit of degradation, Kurtz is also a thief, murderer, raider, persecutor, and to climax all his other shady practices, he allows himself to be worshipped as a god. Marlow does not see Kurtz, however, until Kurtz is so emaciated by disease that he looks more like a ruined piece of a man than a whole human being.There is no trace of Kurtz' former good looks nor his former good health. Marlow remarks that Kurtz' head is as bald as an ivory ball and that he resembles "an animated image of death carved out of old ivory."

Kurtz wins control of men through fear and adoration. His power over the natives almost destroys Marlow and the party aboard the steamboat. Kurtz is the lusty, violent devil whom Marlow describes at the beginning. He is contrasted with the manager, who is weak and flabby- the weak and flabby devil also described by Marlow. Kurtz is a victim of the manager's murderous cruelty; stronger men than Kurtz would have found virtuous behavior difficult under the manager's criminal neglect. It is possible that Kurtz might never have revealed his evil nature if he had not been cornered and tortured by the manager.