Friday, March 5, 2010

Reading Heart of Darkness

Reading Heart of Darkness

Comments on chapter one (page 15-55) are due by pumpkin time on Tuesday, March 9.
Comments on chapter two (page 56-90) are due by pumpkin time on Friday, March 12.
Comments on chapter three (page 91-124) are due by pumpkin time on Tuesday, March 16.

Imperialism in relation to hypocrisy, cruelty, absurdity, madness, and evil. (Is Marlow suggesting something about civilization, about human nature?)
What is the significance of darkness, fog, forest, and many haunting but inscrutable (mysterious, uncertain, dark, foggy, impenetrable) aspects of observed physical reality? Think about the connection (or lack of connection) between the physical and the psychological. Is Conrad suggesting something about existence, about the relationship between the mind and the world, about the relationship between self and other?)
What is significant about the role of women, about the role of race? Think about power, knowledge, control.
What is significant about the role of the river? What is its relationship to time, to space, to mind?

Write a 300+ word response by each of the above dates (three total). You can write insightfully about any aspect of the novel but I've put suggestions above.

42 comments:

andrew said...

The diction used in the novel Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, which includes words such as: darkness, fog, and forest is used to symbolize the sailors’ blindness. The sailors of the past are noted as being great explorers, but after listening to Marlow’s tales it is clear that they were far from it. The explorers who discover Africa and its inhabitants think of the people as savages, but the way the explorers treat the African’s is horrific, making them the savages. Since the explorers have discovered the region, they have turned it upside down. Marlow talks about the African’s as being chained together and lying around dying. The Central Station is also in disarray, which further supports that the explorers are savage-like. The sailors are constantly mentioning the foggy, and dark surroundings, to represent the minds of the explorers. The explorers come to Africa assuming that the inhabitants are savages. This of course is absurd to assume, therefore it shows how foggy the minds of these early explorers were. These explorers are still in the dark since they do not even consider that these inhabitants could be civilized. The explorers do not even see the inhabitants as people, but immediately see them as slaves. They cannot see through the fog that these inhabitants are just like them, but maybe not as progressed. Unfortunately the African inhabitants will never be seen as equals since the explorers are too blinded to see past their appearance. Also their language is foreign to the explorers, which helps the explorers see them as savages. It is also told by Marlow that the explorers had crashed Marlow’s boat so he could not meet Kurtz, which seems evil and absurd. This diction reveals that it is not the African inhabitants who are savages, but it is the explorers who are the savages.

saledwan said...

In Heat of Darkness, the role of women and race come into play in the first section. The first significant time that women appear is when Marlow mentions his aunt who helps him get the job on the boat. He says “Then -- would you believe it? -- I tried the women. I, Charlie Marlow, set the women to work -- to get a job.” He speaks of how he is ashamed that he asked his aunt to get a job, and that he was use to going out into the work force himself. Women are again mentioned when he goes to the company to get his job, and a woman escorts him to the waiting area. Soon after he exclaims It's queer how out of touch with truth women are. They live in a world of their own, and there has never been anything like it, and never can be. It is too beautiful altogether, and if they were to set it up it would go to pieces before the first sunset. Some confounded fact we men have been living contentedly with ever since the day of creation would start up and knock the whole thing over.” You can tell that Marlow thinks of women as not being as bright as men, and that most men probably agree with this. It seems that like the colored men of Africa, which the seamen treat with such disrespect, women are just a possession, almost to show their wealth and status. Like these dark skinned men, the white men look at women as naïve. It is strange that he talks this way about the women at the place where he gets his job, but he does have a lot of respect for his aunt who helps him get his job, so he can see the river and land that he has always wanted. He goes to visit her before he leaves and he says “"One thing more remained to do -- say good-bye to my excellent aunt. I found her triumphant. I had a cup of tea -- the last decent cup of tea for many days -- and in a room that most soothingly looked just as you would expect a lady's drawing-room to look.”

Megan Keegan said...

The first part of Heart of Darkness reveals some very interesting details about characters and the way that the describe things and interact with each other. One of the most important things that I noticed is that some of the comments the characters make are completely absurd. The first time I noticed this was when Marlow talks of when the Roman’s arrived and brought light with them. Not only does this passage reveal something about Marlow’s nature, but it also brings up the motif of light vs. darkness.
Throughout the first part, very frequently, the characters discuss or mention darkness and light. Most of the time, darkness is associated with water or the river that they are traveling on. Darkness to these men is ominous; it can’t actually be touched, it can only be seen by them. It feels as though they are intimidated by the dark since most of the time they don’t have a source of light to see through it. This lack of light isn’t physical, it is all in their minds and for this reason they are confused and intrigued by it. I think that Conrad is suggesting something about the mind and the world because it is evident that darkness surrounds them a lot of the time and their anxiety towards it is all in their heads.
When Marlow is telling his tale about how he became a sailor, he drops subtle hints about his view of society and human nature. Several times when he is speaking he mentions the way that people were looking at him or the energy that he feels coming from people. Some of this might be in his head but it could also suggest something deeper. He thinks about the things and people around him frequently which show a certain amount of madness and paranoia.

Katina T said...

Katina Tibbetts


In the novel, Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad, the theme of madness and absurdity, in the passage with the encounter of Marlow and the doctor caught my attention, on page 27. The doctor says, “I always ask leave, in the interests of science, to measure the crania of those going out there,” he said. “And when they come back too?” I asked. “Oh, I never see them” he remarked; “and, moreover, the changes take place inside you know.” I found that this conversation between Marlow and the doctor to be the first of the absurd conversations in this book. If the doctor felt that his patients change on the inside, than why is he focusing on making measurements on the outside? Conversation about the doctor reappears on pg. 40, when Marlow says, “I remembered the old doctor, -“It would be interesting for science to watch the mental changes of individuals, on the spot.” I felt I was becoming scientifically interesting. However, all that is to no purpose.” Both the doctor measuring his head had no purpose, and Marlow being “scientifically interesting” is also absurd. Also, the fact that his patients don’t return back to him, is another way of showing how the author focuses on exiting and entering (Exterior and Interior) I’d like to think that this is a way to introduce the relation between madness and imperialism to the readers. The doctor is a part of the book just before Marlow leaves. It perhaps foreshadows how his travels to his new job with the Belgian Company will also be full of foolishness. His choice of a Belgian company to a British one shows that he has some preference over different imperial powers. As the novel goes on, more clues of absurdity and madness related to imperialism.

Sabrina said...

The narrator seems to appriciate the water more than anything else. On the first few pages he makes us aware of this when he talks about how the water is "the luminous estuary", and it bonds the sailors, "as I have already said somewhere, the bond of the sea." It is said that the sea is appriciated for other reasons, like how it has carried heros, "it had known and served all the men of whom the nation is proud."
All of this is in contrast to the land. The land is portrayed as gloomy and dark, not luminous like the sea/river.

We find out Marlow is a sailor, but a wanderer as well. Marlow's home was "always with him."
Marlow seems like a blunt person. When he talks about the Romans; "a sea the colour of lead, a sky the colour of smoke, a kind of ship about as rigid as a concertina"
Here, it is realized that all the romans did was steal, and there was nothing good about it- "an unselfish belief in the idea—something you can set up, and bow down before, and offer a sacrifice to.."".

Chapter one makes it clear that darkness is portrayed as a negative thing, and lightness and luminous and beauty are the positive parts of the story. This is why the sea is described in a positive light, and the land is opposite, because nothing on land that happens is good to Marlow.
Charlie Marlow was not always this way, he got a job as a steamboat captain when he was interested in Africa, the "blank" continent when he was just a chap.

A place that stuck in my head is when Charlie talks about the two women at the building he goes to. On page 26, "Often far away there I thought of these two, guarding the door of darkness, knitting black wool as for a warm pall, one introducing, introducing continuously to the unknown," they seem sketchy and the use of the word darkness is repeated.

When Charlie is on his way to the river, on the boat, he mentions that "the uniform sombreness of the coast, seemed to keep me away from the truth of things," (pg 30) meaning that the sea is what keeps him sane.
When Charlie got to the river, he realized that blacks were being tourtured by the white men who came by sea.

The dark and light references come into play again, but in the diction and blacks and whites. The black people have the hard life, being enslaved and ill, to eventually die. Meanwhile, the light, white skinned people have power, which signifies something positive.

The only things I am confused about are the rivets and how the "devoted band" who "called itself the Eldorado Exploring Expedition." Also, I am lost with the whole "Kurtz" situation.

Brianna A said...

Joseph Conrad uses a unique style of writing to represent the ideas of human condition. As the white explorers are entering Africa they pay special attention to the description of the land around them to help express how they are feeling rather than heavy dialogue or drastic action. A lot of the time we are soaking in the observations from Marlow and the other explorers to string together an understanding of their thoughts and emotions. Especially the gloominess and fogginess of Africa seem to be occupying the explorers’ minds. They are predestined to explore with a closed mind and a foggy image of what to expect. Especially paying attention to the condition of the significant parts of nature such as the river aids Conrad to explain the fogginess between ideas in this novel. On page 19 “Here and there a military…have been dying like flies here.” The explorers imply that to live in this darkness and gloominess must be terrible and just result in death. The natives are not civilized, but for them, the explorers, they are men because they are brave to face the darkness. The white men seem to be fascinated with strong symbols like the river such as on page 25, “And the river was there – fascinating – deadly – like a snake.” The river is sturdy and in the center of the area; it is wild and deadly like a snake and the culture to which they are exploring but it is also fascinating. We are introduced to the explorers’ “bond of sea” early in the novel on page 15. The special attention they pay to the fog and gloominess coming over the water and the potency of the river represent the connection the explorers have to the sea. The sea is what brought them all together, but also identified them as seamen exploring where the sea leads them. Africa may be dark and eerie but it shares a sea with the rest of the world and has significant bodies of water that the white men can appreciate. This idea of the connection between cultures is reflected in the scene where Marlow is watching the black men take drinks of water from the river. Although their actions may seem savage, there is a connection to nature and the elements to every culture.

nFrye said...

Nancy F.

In the beginning of chapter one in Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad uses the character Marlow to explain the concept of imperialism of the Romans. What this particular character observes is that the life of a Roman soldier, a conqueror, is one that is not truly desirable. The soldier must leave his home and family and travel to places that are foreign to him to dominate people that do not always wish to be conquered (for who would not resist when their independence is being stripped from them?). Marlow argues both for the feelings of the soldier and for the cruelty and mindlessness that the Roman soldier represents. While Marlow does express sympathy towards the Roman soldier's situation, he also admits that he sees no intellect in the ability of Rome to conquer. Rather, brute force is all that was needed in order to establish the mighty empire that once was Rome. Marlow pictured that those dominated by the Roman armies were completely outmatched and suffered much death and harm.

In his discussion of Roman soldiers, Marlow expressed his feelings about imperialism and the human condition in general. He appears to feel as though it is in the nature of humans to want to dominate people whose culture seems more primitive than one's own. Thus, colonies arose in Africa and Asia, and the people there were dominated and forced into submission to English culture by a new empire: the English Empire. Conrad is able to exemplify Marlow's desire for peaceful existence by going farther than just his words. Images of Buddha are compared to Marlow, and suggest that he is a leader that desires peace above personal gain.

Francesco P said...

Dreams: expressing aspects of our perception which become but the reality of the surreal, in being the existence of a moment, which, from subtly of its meaning and its truth for us, exists independently from reality. I deeply admire this allusion in the novel to dreams in respect to what the novel is attempting to portray. In that, the plot is insignificant in some manner of speaking. Reading these words that the narrator/author/Marlow has fabricated cannot possibly reveal to us the impression of the events within his consciousness. The absurdity, rapture, ineffability of existence cannot quite be described for humans, as upon being translated into the physical realm they become infinite in perspective, spawning new conceptualizations within each individual that may not have been a reality within the original notion. The sensation of existence itself can be only experienced through relation, from the shared bond between individuals who share the essence, much like the essence of a dream. We can relate to each other, and these concepts because we each exist, are alive, and are human. It’s further elaborated, “we live, as we dream – alone…” (50), in that the perceptions and perspectives of our individualized experiences can never quite possibly be conveyed in all their glorious subtlety’s. I think this has something extremely powerful to say about our own existence, and the intention of the novel, as the aspirations that drive many of our endeavors are fueled by the desire to understand each other. Conrad here insinuates the immense difficulty, and perhaps impossibility of the endeavor of the author/artist to express an experience/concept so that it may be re-experienced and understood in the likeness of the ‘original’. Such an aspect can bring weariness and uneasiness to the individual, as portrayed by Marlow, who consistently becomes uneasy from the notion of human inscrutability, as in the people he observes who seem to be waiting endlessly so they may maintain a routine. It reminded me of ‘Waiting for Godot’, where the individual’s existence becomes the pretense of a goal or certain aspiration in mind which is never necessarily accomplished as that would eradicate their purpose. Marlow senses the unreal in this, as it reflects the structure of an existence where life isn’t actually being lived, but is being consciously fabricated for an empty motive. A similar reaction of uneasiness is yielded from his interview with the manager (42). The man maintained the routine of his existence. Creating nothing directly, yet it made him ‘great’ in the sense that such an existence was inscrutable for Marlow. He commonly associates an essence of darkness or nothingness with such an individual, pertaining to the void he perceives as unnatural.

B Shay said...
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B Shay said...
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B Shay said...

he one theme that really stuck out to me in the book “The Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad is Light an darkness. Being in the title I assumed that it has a lot to do with the story as a whole. There is a literary transition in each scene that seems like light going to dark. The title of the book “The heart of Darkness” could mean that they are heading into the darkness in an attempt to reach its heart. First thing in the book that made me think of that was the sun setting into darkness. Which I’m thinking is going to see the mood for the rest of the book as a whole.
Another quote from the book made me think of something else “Those who dwell in the darkness shall go Blind”. This could be foreshadowing future events, possible of a bad encounter with the natives like that other group had. Blind itself could mean a few thing, like as sight or as instincts. The captain wants to go into the darkness to explore and adventure. Not thinking of any pre-cautions has made him blind before he even enters the so called “darkness”. When he talks about unexplored areas of the world he calls them “Blanks that fade to become darkness”. This leaves us with the thought of weather darkness is as we normally think it as light and dark, or that it’s a kind of evil or bad place as opposed to a good place. It is also noted that a few people that the captain meets before going on his journey appear to “Guard the door of darkness”. So I guess I’ll learn more the more I read the book.

ter said...

Terri M.

As we talked about in class today, this first part of the book serves to in a general sense the fear and misconceptions about the unknown. I found this first chapter difficult to follow, but after talking about it I feel more confident about going on to read it, and I think I will enjoy it.
There are many terms about darkness, fog, uneasiness etc in respect to many things in this first chapter. The Belgiums are calling the unknown dark and associate it with madness. The narrator is unclear and jumps around a lot in his tale of Marlow, but I understand that at this point in the book Marlow is realizing that there is a system in Africa. That all the talk of the place making one mad was simply because it was different he starting to forget the particulars about his home and wonders if the madness is there. As we discussed, perhaps this is the madness that people who warned Marlow, such as the doctor, were talking about. I believe that if as the story goes if Marlow can grasp the differences about Africa, accept the differences without being driven to racism or madness and remember his home than he will have over come the difficulty of culture shock. I am interested to find out because the plot of this book applies to how people view anyone and anything that is different than themselves, even within their own culture. I like the deep descriptions and the use of adjectives in this book. The fact that so many adjectives are used contributes to the meaning of the book so far, being that we as a society judge people and events based off of face value.

Meredith S said...

In Heart of Darkness, the topic of race is layered. Marlow does not think much of the Africans at first. They are merely part of the "dark place" that is so mysterious to him. His opinion is that the natives are so uncivilized that it would not be worth trying to influence them with "civilized" (European) cultural values and norms. This is part of his critique of imperialism, which he finds to be somewhat pointless for exactly this reason. His view on the Africans is so superficial that he cannot imagine being human in the same way he is. He does not necessarily look down on them, but rather he views them as being incomparable to himself and sets them apart in that way. Marlow does mention how he carefully observes their strength and approves of it. He says, "...they had bone, muscle, a wild vitality, an intense energy of movement, that was as natural and true as the surf along their coast." The misery of the Africans brought on by their mistreatment is something he observes when he says, "They passed me within six inches, without a glance, with that complete, deathlike indifference of unhappy savages." However, their misery does not have enough of a connection with him that it makes him feel sympathy for the people. It is something that he views and accepts with willingness to watch from a distance. Marlow's observations of the natives enforce his criticism of imperialism.

Nick B said...

I like the perspective Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness takes on European imperialism. In a time when imperialism was still prominent throughout the world, and the public hadn’t quite yet come to see the problems with the subjection of native races, this novel seems to have brutally opened people’s eyes to the truth. Conrad doesn’t hold back anything in making the Company’s men seem foolish, ineffective, and corrupt. Even Marlow, who I’ve come to like, gets his position in a pathetically corrupt way. He has no experience in Africa, running a steamboat, or even fresh-water sailing, yet through his Aunt’s connections he lands a job as captain of a ship. Of course the ship has already been sunk, by a foolhardy fake captain representing, yet again, the Company’s ineffectiveness.

But Charlie, the only person in the story so far who really isn’t a Company or imperialist man, is daunted by the challenge, and sets to work trying to get around the Company’s laziness and get his boat fixed. He meets all sorts of top men on the coast and further up the river, and each one is completely useless. The only hope for a useful person is in the form of the legendary Mr. Kurtz, though even he gets sick and loses some of his glamour. I think this book must have been an eye-opener for many people who were happy to ignore, or just too uninformed to see, the true evils of imperialism. Joseph Conrad uses the Company to model typical imperialist ventures, and Charlie Marlow, the determined, innovative, and likeable seaman, to help illuminate the futility of everything the Company does.

Molly A said...

Molly A.

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad illustrates race and women from the perspective of a character that falls into neither category. Marlow is continually making references to the darkness or lightness of something, often tending to regard dark things with more disrespect and upset than the lights. It becomes clear to the reader that although he does not hate blacks, he feels that they are lower than him, that he surpasses them, and that their civilization pales in comparison to his own. Conrad, in one part of the first chapter (page 26), wrote from Marlow‘s point of view, “An eerie feeling came over me. She seemed uncanny and fateful. Often far away there I thought of these two, guarding the door of Darkness, knotting black wool as for a warm pall, one introducing, introducing continuously to the unknown, the other scrutinizing the cheery and foolish faces with unconcerned old eyed. Ave! Old knitter of black wool.” This quote accurately exemplifies the resistance to accept something Marlow does not understand. “The door of darkness” represents black to him, in a superficial way. However, in that same quote, “introducing continuously to the unknown” shows a deeper side of the matter. In just that small bit of the quote, the reader sees that there is so much more to understand, beyond the “door of darkness”, Marlow just has not grasped it yet. As for women, he feels similarly, as though they are beneath him, and he is unable to understand them in a relatable way. “She seemed uncanny and fateful… guarding the door of Darkness.” Marlow seems to feel that both blacks and women live in worlds unlike his, and that he is superior. However, it is his “superiority” that feels like discomfort, does that make him inferior? It disturbs Marlow, that things he understands so little are the same as him in a certain way- human.

Andrew Ryan said...

The second part to Heart of Darkness reveals Marlow’s ridiculousness and his slow process into insanity. When Marlow leads a team up river to find Kurtz and is then ambushed by the natives, Marlow responds absurdly to the dying helmsman. It seems that after the crew gets away that Marlow does not even grieve for the now dead helmsman. Instead he asks an agent “Can you steer?” When a person murmurs “He is dead” to Marlow, Marlow responds by saying “No doubt about it” and then changes his socks and shoes. The only thing he is upset about is that he feels is that now he will never hear Kurtz again. After recollecting over the incidence, Marlow sees the absurdity in his reaction to the Helmsman’s death when he says, “Now I think of if, it is amazing I did not shed tears.” He justifies his actions by saying “I was cut to the quick at the idea of having lost the inestimable privilege of listening to the gifted Kurtz.” Marlow does appear crazy as when he states that he has heard “this voice-other voices-all of them were so little more than voices – and the memory of that time itself lingers around me, impalpable, like a dying vibration of one immense jabber, silly, atrocious, sordid, savage, or simply mean, without any kind of sense.” Marlow becomes unnervingly fixated on Kurtz and explains how a report Kurtz wrote about how the whites are savages, inspired Marlow. Kurtz’s words also seem mad when he writes in his report “Exterminate all the brutes!” referring to the white people. It seems that Marlow is seeing the natives as more human than the whites. He has already seen the whites already mistreat the natives by chaining them up and firing at them. He is starting to understand where Kurtz is coming from when he says that the whites are savages, because he realizes that it is the white settlers who are attacking the natives. The natives are merely trying to protect themselves.

Katina T said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Katina T said...

Katina Tibbetts
Heart of Darkness
Part 2


Absurdity continues in Part 2 of Heart of Darkness, as cannibals and pilgrims are onboard Marlow’s boat. But what is the most absurd of this all? The cannibals are more humane than the pilgrims. Although the cannibals eat the flesh of humans, they are not even close to being as blood thirsty or violent as the pilgrims. Marlow expresses this opinion when he says, “Fine fellows. –cannibals – in their place. They were men one could work with and I am grateful to them.”(Pg. 61) and then later says, “You should have seen the pilgrims stare! They had no heart to grin, or even to revile me.”(pg. 73) Marlow goes on to feel more compassion towards the cannibals because they have not eaten in a while. All they had to eat was rotting hippo meat, which was eventually thrown overboard. In relation to this subject, Marlow makes a connection to the natives and his thoughts on humanity when he says, “It was unearthly and the men were- No they were not inhuman. Well, you know, that was the worst of it – this suspicion of their not being inhuman. It would come slowly to one. They howled, and leaped, and spun, and made horrid faces; but what thrilled you was just the thought of their humanity – like yours – the thought of your remote kinship with this wild and passionate uproar.” Marlow feels that this “savages” are related to him, and the complete absurdity of this all, in fact, is starting to make sense to him. The people that are supposed to be civil, such as the pilgrims, are the complete opposite, and the cannibals, who are considered inhuman, are decent human beings. The insanity in the novel is starting to form a sane perspective in Marlow’s mind. He starts to pick apart the wrong perceptions that people have formed on insanity, and decipher it in his own mind. As the novel goes on, I predict that more things that seemed sane at one time will be flipped into something that is completely absurd.

B Shay said...

The motif of darkness of course comes back in the second chapter of the book “The heart of Darkness”. There was more talk about how they are trying to reach the heart of darkness by going into the nothing. Forests are a great image for darkness because it blinds them into seeing what is further in. Fear is often percent by the usage of words like “death, treacherous, evil” to explain this so called hear they are trying to reach. Impenetrable Darkness is often used because they just seem to find a way in. One part thought they describe how a “pulsating stream of light” is shining through the darkness. This is the hope and the way of penetrating, it also hold up with the motif of light from the first few pages of the book. If they will actually gain control of this light to reach the dark (whatever they both may be ) you really don’t know yet.
To somehow link this book with “King Lear”, there was a bit of talk about people being Fools. Fools being a big part of King Lear I thought I might mention it. “Too dull to even know you are being assaulted by the powers of darkness”. The narrator of the book is contemplating on the purpose of this mission and has concluded that it is but a fools journey. It is said that going into the darkness is like making a bargain with the devil. The peoples minds are dull meaning that will be easily taken over by whatever evils lurk in the nothing. They will go insane or mad because they are weak and didn’t think of the precautions of the mission. So overall the motifs that I will be looks for answers for in the last chapter will be light, darkness, nothing, fools, and madness.

Sabrina said...

The river plays many roles in chapter two of Heart of Darkness. The river is either the healthy nourishment to its surroundings, or a huge body of water that makes you feels small and lost. For example, "It made you feel very small, very lost, and yet it was not altogether depressing, that feeling," on page 61, the narrator expresses how the trees around the river make you feel captivated and small. Other times, the river is the only means of safety because the land is so unknown and dangerous. The fog's main role in chapter two is protection. The boat is protected from the people in the jungle because of the thick fog, which is proven on page 72- "I did not think they would attack, for several obvious reasons. The thick fog was one."
On pages 62-63, I was interested in the passage about humanity. As the three men come up on a place in which they have never seen and the people look different, the narrator talks about how they actually are humans just like you and me. The narrator's talk about how "they howled, and leaped, and spun, and made horrid faces; but what thrilled you was just the thought of their humanity - like yours -" on page 63. This is an interesting part of the book, because like many other parts, it talks about the difference between people but how similar they actually are. Like how blacks get treated differently than whites and these monstrous humans are looked at as inhumane. Like this, on pages 70 and 71, he talks about how interested he is in the black men. Since they outnumber the white men so much, he wonders how they restrain themselves from hunger, and power. He goes on talking about this, but then says that "I looked at them as you would on any human being, with a curiosity of their impulses, motives, capacities, weaknesses, when brought to the test of an inexorable physical necessity." Humanity seems to be present through the chapter. For instance, when they are attacked by arrows, they were all worried and scared, and one person gets killed. Marlow throws the body overboard, others find it wrong, but Marlow says that it is to resist temptations of eating it. On page 87, when someone on shore yells to them saying, “Come along. It’s all right. I am glad,” the men let the Russian on board, which I am still confused of who it is.

Through the chapter, Marlow is obsessed with meeting Kurtz, but on page 67 "The essentials of this affair lay deep under the surface, beyond my reach, and beyond my power of meddling," Marlow says that it does not even matter if they speak anyways. I found this surprising because the whole book has been Marlow wanting to know who Kurtz is. Then, after they are attacked by arrows, the comment is made that Kurtz is dead, on page 78. This is when Marlow realizes that it wasn’t about the ivory that Kurtz collected, it was just to be able to know his “gifted creature”. Here he contradicts himself because he always talks of how much he wants to converse with Kurtz. But, on page 80, he says he was wrong and that he still has the chance to meet him. This reveals a lot about his character, and how much interest he takes into certain things, like meeting someone who he has never seen. He is so curious.

nFrye said...

A major theme in chapter two of Heart of Darkness is fog and difficulty in seeing. Many important things that happen in chapter two occur when Marlow is unable to see.

When the manager of the station and his uncle speak about Kurtz, Marlow is able to learn much about the man. He becomes even more interested in finding him and, as is revealed later in the chapter, in speaking to him.

Later in chapter two, while sitting on the steamboat in the fog, Marlow and his crew sit in anxious anticipation as they hear the natives screaming and moving within the jungle on each side of the river. Having previously experienced an attack that took the life of one of the crew members, the inability to see made the entire crew question their journey. Few truly felt the desire to search for Kurtz, particularly because they believed him dead, killed by the apparently vicious natives. What cannot be seen by the crew is any hope in not only their own survival, but in the success of their mission.

The absence of relation to anyone around him inspires Marlow to push on into the jungle in the hopes that he will find Kurtz. The crew is blinded by fear of the natives and the unknown jungle that surrounds them. Nobody had, since Kurtz, successfully completed such a mission, and their inability to see physically impairs their ability to see past the basic human desires.

When at last Marlow and his crew reach Kurtz's station, they find a strange group of people. Since they had been exposed to no outside people for so long, their attitudes were somewhat nervous (due to the close proximity of the natives and the jungle itself) and centered greatly around Kurtz. The fact that their leader was so ill made the inhabitants of the station greatly troubled. They were unable to see past the boundaries of their station, having been trapped there for so long.

Sarah Al-Edwan said...

In chapter 2 of Heart of Darkness, fog and darkness (and sight) as a major theme. In the beginning of the chapter Marlow is laying on the deck of the steam boat and can hear the uncle and his nephew talking on the shore. While un-seen and not being able to look at the two men Marlow hears them speak of Kurtz. The talk about Kurtz and how the ivory got there, and how Kurtz decided to return into the jungle. Marlow says “As to me, I seemed to see Kurtz for the first time. It was a distinct glimpse: the dugout, four paddling savages, and the lone white man turning his back suddenly on the headquarters, on relief, on thoughts of home -- perhaps; setting his face towards the depths of the wilderness, towards his empty and desolate station.” The first time that Marlow is able to “see” Kurtz is when his vision of the men having the converstation is blocked.
Another time that fog comes in to play is when another man on the steamboat “'We will be all butchered in this fog,' murmured another” The men seem to be more afraid of the jungle when they are unable to see what is coming there way. Also, when Marlow is talking about the cannibals and how the way that the men treat the dark skinned men, it seems that here they are again afraid of the “darkness.”
In some parts of chapter 2 Marlow is able to see clearer, when he actually has no sight, and at other times the men are afraid of the dark, because it reveals the unknown. This comes out again in the title of the book “Heart of Darkness.” Because the men have to travel to the unknown, which they are most afraid of and that is why some of the men go insane.

ter said...

Terri M.
Heart of Darkness
Part 2

In this section of Heart of Darkness the theme of fear of the unknown is prominent, along with the river being the main setting of interest. This sentence on page 59 displays both of these characteristics. “ Going up that river was like traveling back to the earliest beginnings of the world, when vegetation rioted on the earth and the big trees were kings.” Marlow seems to becoming more accustomed to the Dark Continent. Europe is now the unknown as Marlow’s steamboat companions put it, “ The danger is in Europe…” Marlow is still searching for Kurtz, and the ivory still comes up a lot in conversation. I found it really interesting that the crew let cannibals onto their boat. The cannibals for me represent the animalistic form of humans to the most extreme. Getting so close to them is not only scary but also kind of thrilling. It shows a change in Marlow that he would even be on the same boat as them.
Fog is another major motif in this section. The men on the boat begin to fire aimlessly into the bushes even though their vision is obscured by fog that is dense and then lifts. The result is arrows fire them at and their guide gets killed. This seems important because it shows the fear of not knowing what is close by even though it is not harming you. Although the natives were making screams, it says in the book that they were not necessarily screams of attack but of sadness.

Meredith S said...

Meredith S.
Heart of Darkness-Part Two

In Part Two, Marlow continues to have a shallow view of the native people. He takes this as far as to say that, “I don’t think a single one of them had any clear idea of time, as we at the end of countless ages have.” Their culture is foreign to him so he automatically assumes that they have less of an understanding of life. The fear of attack by the natives only enhances his judgments since he is assuming that they innately barbaric because they would potentially want to defend themselves. Marlow’s ideas about race are shown further when they come across the trader. He is surprised that the manager doesn’t instantly trust him because he is white, as he himself does. Marlow says, “I observed with an assumed innocence that no man was safe from trouble in this world.” The physical land is strange to him as well. He mentions how he observes the land during his trip up the river and compares it to, “a prehistoric earth…an earth that wore the aspect of an unknown planet.” He is not able to make a connection with this place that will validate its reality. This could relate to the motif darkness because Marlow is perceiving Africa in a mostly dark and superficial way. Darkness does not only relate to uncertainty and mystery but also danger. The fog on the river presents danger because it inhibits sight. Later, it is decided that it is too dangerous to approach Kurtz’s station at night with no sunlight. Darkness encompasses Marlow’s entire idea of Africa.

Megan Keegan said...

Throughout the second part of Heart of Darkness, I noticed that different types of evils kept being mentioned. Evilness was first pointed out when the narrator was talking about how some of the workers on board the ship are cannibals. He says that he is impressed that they have restrained themselves while working since it would be easy to let their evil side get the better of them and attack their crew members. Marlow mentions wickedness again when he is discussing starvation and how desperate everyone on the ship is for food. He knows how effortless it would be to go behind the others backs to find other ways of eating but his loyalty to the crew gets the better of him. Marlow also realizes how instead of restraining themselves the cannibals could eat the crew instead of being unhappy and eating what is given to them. It takes a certain person to overcome this malice and be dependable. In some circumstances however, evil is not overpowered. While traveling down the river, Marlow and his crew encounter angry natives. The enemy showers them with gunfire to make sure the crew knows they are not welcome. This kind of evil is caused by a lack of communication through sides. Marlow mentions how there is a moment when he realizes that people are people no matter what color their skin is or how they choose to live their life. He thinks about how easy it is to go into a different culture and make your intentions known so that an interaction is feasible. Although he is thinking about how important this encounter could be, he doesn’t actually go through with it. This shows that he is weak in a way and almost afraid of what would happen if he did interact with the other civilization. Weaknesses and evils are becoming more pronounced in Heart of Darkness.

Brianna A said...

The jungle and the heart of darkness is a way to broaden the minds of the whites. The fogginess and wildness of their surroundings cause them to try harder to see and control the situation which brings out a strong connection between their minds and the world. Marlow discusses how if you are wondering along the river and then you get lost you end up in a dry deserted desert only to be surrounded by haunting of your past and the troubling of reality. As the reality to be found or to survive gets more and more prevalent in your mind your inner truth is hidden more and more this is for Marlow, lucky. From pg 59: “Going up that river was like traveling 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, an impenetrable forest. The air was warm, thick, heavy, sluggish. There was no joy in the brilliance of sunshine. The long stretches of waterway ran on, deserted, into the gloom of overshadowed distances.” The serenity of the prehistoric feel that explorers get brings them into clarity about themselves and their connection to the world. As the explorers are dealing with their own truths they feel the drum of the natives’ truths all around them, hovering in the stillness of the air, and traveling down the river. The explorers still lack to comprehend it. The madness of the natives is contrasting to the stillness of the jungle. Pg. 60 “And this stillness of life did not in the least resemble the peace.” The explorers are like phantoms floating through and observing the madness but as time grow on the explorers’ progress slightly to trying to comprehend the other cultures. Pg. 63 “Ugly. Yes it was ugly enough; but if you were man enough you would admit to yourself that there was in you just the faintest trace of a response to the terrible frankness of that noise, a dim suspicion of there being a meaning in it which you – you so remote from the night of first ages – could comprehend. And why not? The mind of man is capable of anything – because everything is in it, all the past as well as all the future.” The mind is capable of everything because it holds the ability to comprehend and progress through time. Man can learn from the past and invest and continue to the future but as the explorers see it, the heart of darkness is still and prehistoric. The natives are not comprehending the timeline of things to be able to continue and grow, their human condition is set of traditions and no imperialism. The explorers want to control time and act out in this environment but the stillness and the mystery coming through the fog is holding them back. Pg 71/72 “But there was the fact facing me – the fact dazzling, to be seen, like the foam on the depths of the seam like a ripple on an unfathomable enigma, a mystery greater – when I thought of it – than the curious, inexplicable note of desperate grief in this savage clamor that had swept by us on the river-bank, behind the blind whiteness of the fog.”

Francesco P said...

An aspect of reality that Heart of Darkness delineates rather precisely is that within truth lies a myriad of contradictions. It is within these diversions from consistency that truth becomes clarified. Maslow speaks of Kurtz who proclaims his admiration of “his” ivory, Allowing us to confront the notion of ownership that defines a many existences in modern society. In that we define ourselves, as humans, by what we own. Maslow hears laughter from the wilderness, as its awareness finds human concept of ownership amusing. This parallel to human imperialism, and the structure of modern civilization is undeniable. The fixation on attaining wealth and the pride that it yields, as Kurtz represents bluntly in “My Ivory, my intended, my ivory, my station, my river, my-“(pg 81) becomes the mode of existence, driven blindly by further acquisition, un-satisfiable, inexorable till it’s demise. Likewise in the broader perspective of entire nations, who, adapting the ownership obsession spawned within individual human minds, perceive the earth as a bearer of wealth, which they can absorb. Conrad is perhaps attempting to illustrate the effects this perspective yields on the human consciousness, “The Earth seemed unearthly. We are accustomed to look upon the shackled form of a conquered monster, but there- there you could look at a thing monstrous and free.” (pg 62). This reflects the human adaption into the stability and control of civilization, an aspect of reality, which is entirely human bred; from nature only if one considers humankind natural. The intimidating notion is that the wilderness, which is unbound, and monstrous and unpredictable, is unearthly; where as it is rather the paragon of earth’s essence. This suggests that the connection that humans have with their origins has become so blurry, so detached, that it becomes merely an aspect of the past. “The mind of man is capable of anything – because everything is in it, all the past as well as all the future. What was there after all? Joy, fear, sorrow, devotion, valour, rage – who can tell? – but truth – truth stripped of its cloak of time.”(63) Hence Maslow’s ability to feel the inscrutability of the wilderness deep within himself, within the depths of his own humanity.

Katina T said...

Katina Tibbetts
Heart of Darkness: Section 3

In the last section of Heart of Darkness, Marlow’s steamer boat is leaving Africa and heading back towards civilization. During this, Marlow analyzes Kurtz as a person. He feels that the man is extremely intelligent, and his thinking is clear, despite all the horrible things he has done, but his soul “has gone mad” from living in Africa. Marlow feels his can relate to this because he, himself, has also gone mad in the wilderness of Africa. Marlow soon comes to realize that Kurtz is nearing death, and Kurtz even admits that he is “waiting for it.” At this time Kurtz says, “I am lying here in the dark waiting for death.” The light was a within a foot of his eyes.” The theme of darkness shows up through out the whole novel, but right before this man is about to die, whom Marlow finds brilliant, light is ironically mentioned. Perhaps it is suggesting a sliver of hope. After Kurtz dies, Marlow worries if Kurtz’s life had any real purpose. He had so many plans, but didn’t get to fulfill all of them. Bu as Marlow says, “He had something to say. He said it.” It clearly shows that Marlow feels that Kurtz was successful by that he spread his ideas to other people, such as Marlow. As he spreads his thoughts out to other people, Kurtz can become immortal through his words. I found it interesting that both Kurtz and Marlow became deathly ill, yet Kurtz was the only one to die. I think Conrad was trying to portray how Kurtz had left behind all his words that needed to be passed down, yet Marlow’s life was still not yet finished. Because his life was saved, his loyalty to Kurtz, even though it had made him an outcast, had been proven the right choice. It is clear that Marlow will carry Kurtz’s words with him always when he says, “I have remained loyal to Kurtz to the last and even beyond, when a long time after I heard once more, not his own voice, but the echo of his magnificent eloquence thrown to me from a soul as translucently pure as a cliff of crystal.” The author proves that Kurtz has made an impact on Marlow, and passed on his advice, and therefore, his life is not a waste, but in fact, a success.

Sarah Al-Edwan said...

The Role of women and race in Heart of Darkness.
Section 3.


In section three, while on the steamboat Marlow notices a beautiful native women strolling down the shore, and she is dressed in jewels. It is implied that this woman is Kurtz’s mistress. Because Kurtz is white, and this woman is black, it shows that Kurtz is unable to adhere to the social values of his culture. He has lost all sense of his English nature by entering the jungle. While this is true, this woman also shows that Kurtz has not completely “lost” it because he is capable of being in some type of relationship with this woman, which can somehow represent marriage, or a caring relationship which is normal in his English culture.
This woman also brings up a point that I wrote about for section one, that men often show there status or wealth by their woman. As Marlow says before that he was ashamed to go to his aunt for a job, and that it was a strange task to ask of a woman, woman are meant to show of men’s wealth. Here the woman wears jewels, or ornaments to show of Kurtz. Marlow states “She carried her head high; her hair was done in the shape of a helmet; she had brass leggings to the knee, brass wire gauntlets to the elbow, a crimson spot on her tawny cheek, innumerable necklaces of glass beads on her neck; bizarre things, charms, gifts of witch-men, that hung about her, glittered and trembled at every step. She must have had the value of several elephant tusks upon her.” This woman indirectly characterizes Kurtz and the way woman, especially natives to this land are perceived.

Andrew Ryan said...

Part III in Heart of Darkness shows the disappointing reality that the imperialists are the savages, which explains why Kurtz and Marlow have been ostracized, or “unsound”. When Kurtz is brought back to the stationhouse to be treated, he claims that the manager is trying to steal his ivory instead of helping him. This shows that the imperialists cannot be trusted, unlike the natives who put their trust in the imperialists. Marlow chooses to side with Kurtz and the natives because there are no imperialists he can trust. The manager lies to Marlow about Kurtz being dead after Marlow says, “Mr Kurtz is a remarkable man” when he says on page 101 “He was”. Marlow sees the power and structure that the natives have in their civilization. When Kurtz initially arrive to the stationhouse, Marlow shows his admiration of the natives when he says on page 98 “Dark human shapes could be made out in the distance, flitting indistinctly against the gloomy border of the forest and near the river two bronze figures, leaning on tall spears, stood in the sunlight under fantastic head-dresses of spotted skins, warlike and still in statuesque repose.” Marlow is disgusted that the imperialists want to steal the natives ivory for themselves, but Marlow does not see that the natives are harming elephants for their tusks to better themselves. He notices that some of the women are wearing ivory when he says on page 99 “She must have had the value of several elephant tusks upon her.”
When Kurtz dies, it is interesting that Marlow comes close to dying himself. I doubt that Conrad did this by accident; it seems without Kurtz’s wisdom, Marlow has no one to listen to which causes him to become ill. Marlow becomes stable once he realizes that he has not said anything noteworthy. Kurtz as mentioned has a made a name for himself, preaching words of wisdom, but unlike Kurtz, Marlow feels he not done anything. This motivates him to get healthy again.

nFrye said...

Nancy F.

In chapter three of Heart of Darkness, Marlow finally encounters Kurtz. While he is not disappointed in the man that he had so wished to meet due to his ability to survive deep within the jungle as well as his "business sense", he is shocked at how and what Kurtz had accomplished at his station. Marlow seems to have expected Kurtz to have become familiar with the natives, or at least trade with them while remaining securely locked away within the station. What Kurtz had created was not a bond between the native people. Rather, he had instilled a sense of fear and awe within the people. They treated him as if he was a terrible god. He would go out on expeditions where he would attack the natives and take all of the ivory that he could fine. Kurtz's goal was to accumulate as much ivory as possible and hoard it away.

Kurtz was able to create an empire deep in the jungles of Africa, but, as the author seems to imply about most imperialism, the empire is rooted in evil and fear. Although the natives are fiercely loyal to Kurtz, it is not because he is a good leader. Quite the opposite, in fact. The people living at the station lived in constant fear of his rages, and never knew when he was coming or going. Often, he would leave them in order to make a new conquest of ivory. As an "emperor", he was unreliable and unjust, killing people and putting their heads on stakes in order to set an example for others.

Even as Kurtz was on the brink of death and being taken away from the station, he was still able to hold the loyalty of the native people. In this way, he appears to be a great leader. At least it proves that he has power over those around him. In this way, the novel addresses not only imperialism, but the power that can be held by human beings.

Megan Keegan said...

Megan Keegan

Throughout the third part of “Heart of Darkness” I noticed more than ever, the importance of the river. First mentioned on page 91, Marlow says, “…this river, this jungle, the very arch of this blazing sky, appear to me so hopeless and so dark, so impenetrable to human thought, so pitiless to human weakness.” The way that he describes his feelings towards the river shows that he is not only intimidated by the fact that the river is “impenetrable to human thought” but also that when he looks at the river, he looses hope. This is important to the novel because throughout the book it is their only form of transportation.
The next important mention of the river is on page 96. Marlow notes after Kurtz is done speaking that “all this was in the gloom, while we down there were yet in the sunshine, and the stretch of the river abreast of the clearing glittering in a still and dazzling splendor, with a murky and overshadowed bend above and below.” This particular passage is extremely important because it provides a contrast to the river. First Marlow says that he can see the river in all its “dazzling splendor” but further ahead he can see its “murky and overshadowed bend”. I think this is a metaphor for the way he feels about Kurtz. He feels that when Kurtz is talking, his words might “dazzle” but when you look deeper into what he is saying, it becomes clear that these words are “overshadowed” with gloom.
The notice of the river on page 108 was the most significant to me. As the crew is traveling down the river, they notice “bronze bodies” staring at them from the riverbank. Marlow then compares their boat to a “river-demon” and says that it is “beating the water with its terrible tail and breathing black smoke into the air.” Although it is obvious that the natives do not approve of the crew, the aggressiveness used by Marlow to describe his own ship as the “river-demon” stood out to me. Further down the page, the natives become more hostile towards the boat, but the “river-demon” continues on. No matter how violent or difficult things might get for the crew, the river always obeys them.

Sabrina said...

Kurtz:
In the beginning of chapter 3 of Heart of Darkness, the Russian tells Marlow all about what he knows of Kurtz. It seems like the power of Kurtz takes a hold of people’s attention. Marlow seemed to be obsessed with him, but the Russian seems like he may have the lead in that race. The way that he talks about Kurtz so highly, in the first few pages of chapter 3, shows his devotion to him; even after Kurtz threatens to shoot the Russian. It ends up revealing Kurt’s insanity, especially when he posts heads on a pole near his home. Kurtz is accused of ruining the jungle. “They only showed that Mr. Kurtz lacked restraint in the gratification of his various lusts, that there was something wanting in him—some small matter which, when the pressing need arose, could not be found under his magnificent eloquence,” (pg 95) Marlow says talking about the heads. Marlow reminds himself, and the Russian that he is not obsessed as much as the other. When Marlow finally gets the chance to meet Kurtz, he is seems uninterested and mad. He wants to beat him up. Then, as Kurtz speaks on, he is interested and decides he will be the one to take care and share Kurtz documents with who Kurtz wants to know about it. In the end of the book when Marlow talks to Kurtz fiancé, he lies and tells her that Kurtz last words were her name. He then connects this to darkness. Everything is connected to darkness. The forest is dark because it holds secrets of those who live there. The truth holds darkness to Kurtz fiancé because if she knew, her mourning would be even harder. Kurtz death is darkness, a nightmare.
Race:
On passage that painted a disturbing picture in my head was on page 94. “I had expected to see a knob of wood there, you know. I returned deliberately to the first I had seen—and there it was, black, dried, sunken, with closed eyelids—a head that seemed to sleep at the top of that pole, and, with the shrunken dry lips showing a narrow white line of the teeth, was smiling, too, smiling continuously at some endless and jocose dream of that eternal slumber.” This brings out race, and insanity again. The race is that it is an issue with a black man. The Russian calls these people “rebels,” “enemies,” “criminals,” and “workers.” But the truth is, it is the whites who are corrupting their land, the colored people. The whites are the intruders, like Kurtz.

Sleep:
“with the shrunken dry lips showing a narrow white line of the teeth, was smiling, too, smiling continuously at some endless and jocose dream of that eternal slumber.” Pg 94
“Shamefully! Shamefully! I – I – haven’t slept for the last ten nights…” The Russian complains about how worried he is about Kurtz that he cannot sleep himself. (pg 96)
“I was unsound! Ah! but it was something to have at least a choice of nightmares.” Marlow
“I did not betray Mr. Kurtz—it was ordered I should never betray him—it was written I should be loyal to the nightmare of my choice” Marlow realizes that they might get attacked, but he knows that he cannot deceive Kurtz because he has already chosen a side.
“They had behind them, to my mind, the terrific suggestiveness of words heard in dreams, of phrases spoken in nightmares” (pg 107) This is when Marlow talks about how ordinary his conversation with Kurtz is.
“However, as you see, I did not go to join Kurtz there and then. I did not. I remained to dream the nightmare out to the end, and to show my loyalty to Kurtz once more. Destiny. My destiny!” (pg 112)
-I tracked these moments of “sleep” and “nightmares”/”dreams” because they all related back to Kurtz. Marlow is “loyal to the nightmare” of his choice. This means that what he promises Kurtz in the end is what he will live by. He has picked a side and will no betray that.

Brianna A said...

As Joseph Conrad ends his novel he shows the frightening effects of imperialism. The drive and determination of Marlow and Kurtz to explore and conquer turns into madness and hypocrisy. On Marlow’s wait for his boat’s repairs, as he travels through Africa he becomes more engrossed with his surroundings and the characters of people around him such as the natives and of Kurtz. Marlow sees the Africans as objects, such as Kurtz’s mistress which he compares to machinery. The river running through Africa is a way by which Europeans can control Africa’s resources without going into the “Heart of Darkness.” But now as Marlow and his strange crews observe the natives they are frightened and intrigued by the sound of their drums and the movement of their traditions. The natives are called ugly and are not understood by the Europeans at all. As Kurtz and Marlow head into muddy waters they grow more mad and crueler. Kurtz had always been upfront with the way he was towards natives but as he becomes ill the madness of the jungle seems to instill a temporary peace and appreciation. This is however destroyed as he writes to “Kill all the brutes!” and his last words are “Horrid!” Kurtz’s cruelty even stretches to Marlow when he tries to get them to leave completely with an attack by the natives. Kurtz uses the natives as a tool to carry out his wishes, he does not believe in the peace of the jungle or the intelligence of the people there; he is still an imperialistic European. Even after Kurtz dies and Marlow is back in England visiting with Kurt’s previous fiancée, Marlow lies to protect Kurtz’s memory even though Kurtz was mad and chaotic. The fog that protected Marlow from facing reality altered a lot of his mind so that he could not see clearly and made him think he was seeing something else, even in the ones close to him.

ter said...

Terri M.

What I found most interesting about the last section of Heart of Darkness is the fact that Marlow returns to Europe. It brought me back to section one where people told him he would not return, and/or that he would go mad. Marlow looks for madness in the Dark Continent. He expects it because of what he has been told before left. When comes face to face with Kurtz finally he understands him. He does not think any less of him because he has survived and thus far prospered in the jungle, in fact Marlow is devoted to him. “I wasn’t arguing with a lunatic either. Believe me or not, his intelligence was perfectly clear – concentrated, it is true upon himself with horror intensity, yet clear: and there in was my only chance – space barring, of course the killing him there and then, which wasn’t so good, on account of unavoidable noise but his soul was mad.” At the very end of the book the readers here from Kurtz fiancé. This gives perhaps another level of understanding Kurtz and why he was went to Africa. “ I had heard that her engagement with Kurtz had been disapproved by her people. He wasn’t rich enough or something. And indeed I don’t know whether or not he had been pauper all his life. He had given me some reason to infer that it was his impatience of comparative poverty that drove him out there.” Kurtz was willing to do anything for approval from his society, and that is why he went to Africa. The of Kurtz affected those around him and it was interesting story to be told on a boat going to Africa. It was kind of scary for the people listening to it because their fate could end up the similar to Kurtz.

Katina T said...

King Lear
Act 4

4.6.86-97

EDGAR
As I stood here below, methought his eyes
Were two full moons. He had a thousand noses,
Horns whelked and waved like the enragèd sea.
It was some fiend. Therefore, thou happy father,
Think that the clearest gods, who make them honors
Of men’s impossibilities, have preserved thee.

GLOUCESTER
I do remember now. Henceforth I’ll bear
Affliction till it do cry out itself,
“Enough, enough,” and die. That thing you speak of,
I took it for a man. Often ’twould say,
“The fiend, the fiend!” He led me to that place.


4.6.172-192

LEAR
And the creature run from the cur? There thou mightst
behold the great image of authority: a dog’s obeyed in office.
Thou rascal beadle, hold thy bloody hand.
Why dost thou lash that whore? Strip thine own back.
Thou hotly lust’st to use her in that kind
For which thou whipp’st her. The usurer hangs the cozener.
Through tattered clothes great vices do appear;
Robes and furred gowns hide all. Plate sin with gold,
And the strong lance of justice hurtless breaks.
Arm it in rags, a pigmy’s straw does pierce it.
None does offend—none, I say, none. I’ll able 'em.
Take that of me, my friend, who have the power
To seal th' accuser’s lips. Get thee glass eyes,
And like a scurvy politician seem
To see the things thou dost not. Now, now, now, now,
Pull off my boots. Harder, harder. So.


EDGAR
O matter and impertinency mixed! Reason in
madness!


Madness/Manipulation

In Act 4, Gloucester plans to commit suicide and Edgar offers to help him, yet manipulates him into believing he actually jumped off a cliff, when in reality, he did not. Edgar helps Gloucester by manipulating him. He makes Gloucester think that his life was saved and it’s a miracle that he is still alive. This made Gloucester value his life and plan to keep living. The fact that something as mad as committing suicide crossed his mind, shows how unstable Gloucester is. He’s so easily taken advantage of, but it only helps him. This strange and insane manipulation of making him think he is going to die, actually benefits him. In the next passage that I chose, Lear is rambling nonsense to Edgar and Gloucester, yet he is saying things that actually make sense. As Edgar blatantly points out, “O matter and impertinency mixed! Reason in madness!” Edgar sees that Lear is going crazy, but his mind is actually starting to produce sensible thoughts. Lear talks about the hypocrisy of the world, and how people scold others for something that they do themselves. Relating the first passage I chose, Lear tells Gloucester to “Get glass eyes, and like a scurvy politician seem to see the things that though does not.” Its ironic how Gloucester feels that the world has been cruel to him, yet Lear is telling him that he sees just as much as the politicians of the world now. These two passages relate to each other by that they are each examples of how madness can lead to sane thoughts. Edgar manipulating Gloucester into believing he actually committed suicide made him cherish his life in the end, and Lear rambling of nonsense also made interestingly perceptive points as he is obviously going insane.

Molly A said...

Molly A.


In the third section of Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, the reader sees more hypocrisy and cruelness in relation to imperialism. When Marlow finally finds Kurtz, what he expects to find are anything but realistic, and the truth leaves readers with an uneasy sense. Marlow learns of the instigation of fear and hatred that Kurts has placed within the natives. It is not some civilized content place or resolution and understanding, several things that would essentially bond them, but rather barriers involving a difference in class and levels, which separate their interests. Conrad states a lot by illustrating the amount of power that can be encompassed by one person, simply through committing radical actions, and having no one to defend against them. Kurts becomes a figurative dictator, because when stood up to, it was said that he could kill and have no consequences follow. It becomes clear, though the violent actions and crazed responses to human interaction that Kurtz, a man Marlow has regarded with much respect and admiration, is crazy to an extent. However, Marlow does not see this. He does not identify the insanity of negative character traits in Kurtz. Everything he has admired him for, has been achieved through forcing others to cower before him. Yet, Marlow does not care. Kurtz changes the way Marlow looks at life, and the way to treat differences, with fear, cruelty, hypocrisy, etc. and Marlow does not reject his ideas, but rather sacrifices many things to abide by them.

Molly A said...

In section 2 of Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad most accurately depicts the comparison and contrast of sanity and insanity, as well as who rightfully owns and acts the part of each title. There is an encounter with cannibals, and the question of who craves the spilling of blood more, begins to exist. Marlow begins to relate more with different perspectives, while simultaneously opening up to different possibilities of the idea of “insanity”. It begins to make more and more sense to him. His original understanding of the dark people is merely superficial and he begins to accept and understand the probability of a deeper sense and humane way to them. This changing sense of sane and insane helps relate back to the issue of race as well as social standing. The fact that he opened up to the idea of allowing cannibals, those who would most sensibly be denied care, on their ship, as well as discovering that, comparatively, they are not as craving to kill and harm others. It shows a comfort that he begins to feel, towards the Dark Continent, making him relate and understand in more ways. I thought this to be an interesting lesson that Conrad would incorporate into the book. That bloodshed, depending on the intentions behind it’s occurrence, could be more justified in certain situations. I related this assumption back to evil, particularly. Because, certain men, those who don’t understand the natives would kill instantly without justification or reason, just because the natives are different, and that scares them. The cannibals kill, for survival, because that is what they eat and it is one of their necessary means to survive. I’ve never encountered a novel that subtly illustrates cannibals as less evil than normal, human men. However, in this novel, that is what the reader is asked to believe.

B Shay said...

Brendan Shay Heart of Darkness chapter 3

The word darkness is used quite a few times in the third chapter of the book “Heart of Darkness”. That word encompasses the book as well as the story within. Every move or action by Marlow and the crew seems to be shrouded and darkness or fog. All around the boat is mystery and the only place they seem to be headed is into darkness. The slow formation of the jungle into a heart of darkness is complete in the last chapter of the book. Marlow’s description of the beating of drums in the heart of darkness is meant to be portrayed as a physical heart instead of just a native tribe. The fog is another example of the darkness that shrouds, because it only seems to show up at the most discreet of moments. Such as when Marlow finds Kurtz crawling towards the native camp in the middle of the night. Darkness seems to call Marlow out of sleep, just to find Kurtz on all fours in the fog.
One thing that is fulfilled in the last chapter of the book is the warning by the doctor that people go mad in the jungle. Though it doesn’t seems that Marlow ever goes mad, it seems that they implemented someone else to show how one does lose touch. This person being Kurtz, it described as a genius, but also “unseen”. What people mean by unseen is that he has left his company and is now on his own accord because of his harsh actions with the tribes and hunting ivory. Though his “genius” can be seen as madness because it was acquired in the jungle where people go mad. Many people on the boat do not feel safe near him because of the unseeness, they are in fear of him alerting the tribes at any moment to attack. Though Marlow is titled as unseen also for trusting Kurtz, it seems that he makes it out of the jungle in time to keep his mind.

Francesco P said...

Part 3

Drawn to question: The line between the physical instinctual reality of our world, and the fabrication that is spawned from civilization by the conjoining of human thoughts and aspirations, a world deemed fallacious and bitterly amusing by Maslow upon becoming reinstated within its confines. The theme of inscrutability and its prevalence throughout the novel seems to suggest the condition of the severed nature of humanity from its natural and wilder counterpart. Maslow constantly felt a darkness, impenetrable to human thought emanating from the wilderness, and the awareness of “forgotten and brutal instincts, by the memory of gratified and monstrous passions (107). As pure and primal as these notions are to the likes of modern man, the distance that humankind has traveled has perhaps irrevocably altered its connection to the abstract connection of man to wild. Hence, Kurtz fall into a ‘madness’. Kurtz had “kicked the Earth to pieces”, cleaving himself from the stream of mankind, and entering an isolation of the deepest penetration to ones soul. He develops a madness instigated by the reflection induced by the forest. It had forced Kurtz to peer within his soul, within his human nature, only to feel the terror of his existence. His survival relied on the intricate eloquence of his expression, which brought dimension and layers to his meaning, gave him a purpose to follow through on. This suggests that the darkness of existence, the indefinable bounds of our consciousness lure within every individual, manifesting itself in a myriad of behaviors and actions. What made Kurtz great, according to Maslow, was that he revealed this honest, innate aspect of inscrutable existence within each individual, connecting with them is what made him most admired. Following Kurtz fade from existence, Maslow affirms that it was his voice, his words that will retain Kurtz essence eternally. Maslow himself is the manifestation of the means through which Kurtz lives on, through his own recounting of his story. What we must maintain, although, is that dreamlike notion of the story. The fact that the clarity of the moments and of the individual is lost upon its occurrence, signifies that only translations and interpretations can be communicated thereafter. This notion, though, meliorates the concept of an inexplicable existence, in that the words we leave behind, form paths from our minds that branch out indefinitely from consciousness to consciousness. Bringing purpose, and perhaps hope in that our existence does not vanquish upon our death.

Marisa D. said...

Chapter One Post

In the first chapter I realized that Conrad never names another character (apart from Kurtz) than Marlow. The rest of Marlow’s crew is The Accountant, The Lawyer and so on and so forth. In my opinion Conrad does this so that our focus is only on the story that Marlow is telling (so that the reader does not get caught up in insignificant details). The second thing I realized is that the narrator is not Marlow; it is the first person narrative of someone else who is listening to Marlow’s tale. (It’s the story within the story). Marlow starts off his story being young and naïve, not knowing much about the world, and is exposed to a lot in a short period of time. Conrad uses the “darkness” to represent the moral fiber of mankind. As the narrator points out on the first page, “A haze rested on the low shores that ran out to sea in vanishing flatness ...motionless over the biggest, and the greatest, town on earth”. I think that from the beginning of the story Conrad tries to throw doubt over the moral purity of London by portraying it in a dark shadow. Conrad is trying to show the reader that even in the greatest town on earth the line between morality and sin is very thin. Marlow struggles to maintain his sense of morality as power conspiracies begin to rage all around him. Marlow is thrown into a world where no absolute goodness exists and the best he can do is choose between a selection of nightmares. This becomes apparent when Marlow in an act of pure goodness tries to give a dying African slave a biscuit only to have the man die at his feet, all around him there is suffering and he cannot do anything to help. I think that this will continue to frustrate Marlow until he can no longer distinguish between good and evil.

Chapter Two Post

First and foremost the quote that stuck out to me the most in chapter two was where Marlow discusses whether or not the natives were inhuman or not. He says, “It was unearthly, and the men were—no, they were not inhuman. Well, you know, that was the worst of it—the suspicion of their not being inhuman…a dim suspicion of there being a meaning in it which you –you so remote from the night of first ages—could comprehend. And why not?” It became apparent to me that Marlow has begun to see that the native “savages” are not so different from himself. He realizes to judge them as “inhuman” would be a mistake because even though Marlow refuses to see them as “inhuman” he does see them as a primitive version of himself, rather than a civilized people such like himself. Marlow begins to see the limits of his own perception.

The second chapter revealed Marlow’s obsessions. He fixates on something so much that it almost nearly consumes his very being. After all the whole reason he goes into the interior of the “dark continent” is because he is obsessed with finding Kurtz, and it’s not even finding Kurtz, the only thing that Marlow wants to do is here his voice. This leads us to discover Marlow’s obsession with voices.

In the second chapter we also discover the power struggle within “the Company”. The greediness for wealth and power defines many of the employees of “the Company”. This greed quickly dismisses any sense of morality they may hold and in the previous chapter as well as this one we find that many of them are attempting to get in with Marlow’s good side for the sole purpose of his aunt’s many influences.

Marisa D. said...

Chapter Three Post

As Marlow begins to learn about Kurtz, we as readers begin to see how alike Kurtz and Marlow are. They both have lost all sense between good and evil, though Marlow still retains a hint of moral fiber. Come to find out that Kurtz is not the person that Marlow believes that he is, instead of being this great explorer, it turns out that he is only hungry for power. According to other agents of “the Company” Kurtz is one of the best collectors of Ivory around. But Kurtz’s ambitions do not stop at merely moving up in “the Company”; he desires to prove himself as “superior” to all Africans.

When Marlow returns home from Africa it is evident that he can no longer exist in a normal European society after being in the “dark” for so long. The English people seem savage to him while the native Africans seem more like himself. I found that Conrad’s reversal on what is wild and savage and what is in fact civilized helped me understand Marlow’s mindset. This becomes evident when Marlow goes to see Kurtz’s “Intended” and realizes that she does not know anything about her fiancé rather he is almost a complete stranger to her. Marlow does not understand how this woman can even begin to say that she knows Kurtz when the man that she describes to him is not the Kurtz he met at all. It is then I think that Marlow realizes that he doesn’t belong in England but rather in the vast unknown of the dark continent.

A minor point (and I don’t know if anyone else noticed this or not but I discovered that third chapter also reveals Marlow’s sexist attitude towards women. They only play minor roles throughout this chapter and previous chapters. They are rarely given a voice of their own and are more or less often seen and not heard. The few exceptions to Conrad’s prejudice are Marlow’s aunt and Kurtz’s “Intended”. They however add to Marlow’s assumption that women are naïve and idealistic.)