Everyone wants to be powerful. (Even you. Even Shmoop.) And the people in Heart of Darkness are willing to do some pretty nasty things to get their way: blow up steamships, behead Africans, and wish untimely and unpleasant illness on their coworkers. (Okay, truth, who hasn't done that one?) The Europeans all see nature, and the Africans, as something to be dominated—but in the end, we can't help feeling that the real power is still locked up tight in the African Interior. In fact, we suspect that Kurtz's warrior mistress just might be the most powerful one of all.
Kurtz's power comes from being able to understand and control the native Africans. With access to a large stash of ivory, he wins leverage within the Company.
Kurtz's lack of self-restraint eventually undermines any position of power he manages to hold.