Heart OF Darkness

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					Heart of Darkness

   Joseph Conrad
The Author
             Joseph Conrad
               Born in 1857 in Poland
               Both parents were dead
               by his 12th birthday
               Spent youth as a
               merchant seaman
               1898 and 1899 wrote
               Heart of Darkness
               This was after his
               journey into the Congo
 Is man a free agent or is he subject to forces beyond his control?
    According to Heart of Darkness, man cannot
    control his own destiny.
    Fate and the surrounding environment dominate
    and change a person.
    This is exemplified by the “darkening” of Marlow’s
    thoughts as he spends more time away from
    He considers killing Kurtz at one point and ends
    up despising “civilized” people by the end of the
    He is forever changed by his experiences.
 Every soul has its dark truth and its light truth.
 Life Inevitably     Marlow is “placed” and
 finds out who you   “tested” by his journey
                     in the Congo.
 truly are by
                     He finds himself during
 placing one in a    the expedition and
 situation which     learns that he is not a
 most severely       truly “good” person.
 tests values.       The environment
                     causes Marlow to
                     compromise his values.
 When society’s restraints are removed, and one is forced to
 rely upon one’s own emotional and spiritual resources, a
 person often proven to be “hollow at the core.”
 The greatest sin that a man can commit is inhumanity to
    The Africans were treated as a subservient race of
    people by the British.
    They were actually referred to as a subspecies of
    the white man.
    They were brutalized and forced into slavery for
    many years.
 Is there anything in which to believe?
    According to the story in Heart of Darkness, the
    only thing that can be believed is that people are
    capable of any atrocity.
    Their religious beliefs and basic “goodness” are
    just a by-product of society’s rules and laws that
    have conditioned them.
    When they are removed, as in Marlow’s case, so
    are any beliefs that one might have.
Put a man into isolation and his true nature will be revealed.
  Grass covers up men’s mistakes and
  accomplishments and enhances the idea
  that no matter how great or good or evil a
  man’s deeds are they are transitory.
 Symbolizes the sick
 and putrid reason
 that the white man
 has lost all
 trappings of
 Kurtz’ Painting
   The painting of the blindfolded woman holding the
   torch out into the darkness could represent one of
   two things:
    • Kurtz’s intended and the truth about the darkness
    • Or Europeans stumbling into Africa
    • Or, in our interpretation, it could represent man’s
      blindness to himself
   The jungle represents two things

 Truth and Reality
 The psyche and the twisted, torturous, and
 tangled route a man must take for self-
 Pairings of twins
   Through juxtaposition and a process of
   misdirection, Conrad attempts to convey
   subtle meanings.
  In the map when Marlow was being
  “interviewed” by the company, the part he
  was going to was blank and white.
  He thought this meant it was full of
  something and secret.
  However, it was only filled with Darkness.
  White means the opposite, and Darkness
  may be the real, the pure part.
 DARKNESS                     It is present in the
  is present throughout the
                              beginning of the
  novel as a symbol of        book in describing
  desolation and isolation.   the estuary the boat
                              sits in.
                              Marlow tells his
                              story in darkness.
                              The lady in the
                              painting holds a light
                              in the darkness.
Literary Terms
 The use of words in
 written or oral discourse
 Conrad uses Marlow as
 a means of both.
 Conrad writes as Marlow
 and makes the reader
 feel as if the story is
 being told instead of
Literary Terms
 Point of View
  Conrad is a master of using Marlow’s point of view
  as storyteller to lead the reader down the dark
  journey into his soul.
  Conrad uses the point of view to confuse the
  reader and to make one pay attention to the story.
  By using Marlow’s point of view, Conrad also
  shows the psychological changes that take place
  during the expedition.
Literary Terms
                             In Heart of Darkness,
Pathos-                      the treatment of the
                             blacks by the British is
 The quality in literature   discussed.
 which stimulates pity,
                             They are used for slave
 tenderness, or sorrow
                             labor and are fed little,
 in the reader or viewer ;
                             and when they cannot
 implies helpless and
                             work anymore they
 unmerited suffering.
                             crawl off and die.
Literary Terms
  A simple element which reoccurs
  In Heart of Darkness, there are several motifs.
   • The baseness (wicked, immoral, sordid, corrupt) of the
   • How the English are the true “savages”
   • Constant travel
   • Darkness and Light
   • Searching
Literary Terms
  The doctrine that primitive man, because he has
  remained closer to Nature and has been less
  subject to the corrupt influences of society, is
  nobler and more nearly perfect than civilized man
Literary Terms
  Conrad often referred to the Jungle on
  either side of the river as a beast that
  breathed and waited.
Narrative Techniques
 Conrad uses Marlow as a master of indirection.
 Much is left out of the story on purpose so that the reader must
 decide for himself what has occurred.
 The timeline is also distorted by this misdirection.
 Future and past become intertwined, and the trip seems to take years
 instead of months.
Narrative Techniques

   Perhaps the best example of this is when Marlow is examined by the
   Doctor, who alludes to the “changes in individuals” who have been
   out in the Congo.
   After Marlow visited his aunt he also had “a startled pause” at going
   on to Africa.
   He was very wary of this because, being a seaman, he left his
   temporary “land” home all the time.

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