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									                                       Heart of Darkness
                                             Lecture Three
                                         E-mail: y2hu@uci.educ

The Teller of/in the Tale:
Marlow as

Content: where is the meaning?
“The yarns of seamen have a direct simplicity, the whole meaning of which lies within the shell of a
cracked nut. But Marlow was not typical, and to him the meaning of an episode was not inside like a
kernel but outside, enveloping the tale which brought it out only as a glow brings out a haze...” (p.3).

  tale = glow
  meaning = haze
Form: basic structure of the novel
Who is Marlow?
“He was the only man of us who still ‘follow the sea’” (p.3).

“Now when I was a little chap I had a passion for maps. I would look for hours at South America, or
Africa, or Australia, and lose myself in all the glories of exploration…. But there was one yet -- the
biggest, the most blank, so to speak -- that I had a hankering after” (p.5).

“Well, you see, the notion drove me” (p.6).
Who is Marlow?
“He was the only man of us who still ‘follow the sea.’ The worse that could be said of him was that he
  did not represent his class. He was a seaman, but he was a wanderer, too” (p.3).

*wanderer: from Old English “windan,” to turn, to twist; wanderer, one who rambles with no fixed
  course or by a round-about way; one who digresses
What kind of story-teller is Marlow?
“‘I don’t want to bother you much with what happened to me personally’ ... he began, ‘yet to
understand the effect of it on me you ought to know how I got there,… It was the farthest point of
navigation and the culminating point of my experience. It seemed somehow to throw a kind of light on
everything about me -- and into my thoughts. It was somber enough, too -- and pitiful -- not
extraordinary in any way -- not very clear either. No, not very clear. And yet it seemed to throw a kind
of light” (p.5).
What kind of story-teller is Marlow?
“‘You know I hate, detest, and can’t bear a lie, not because I am straighter than the rest of us, but
simply because it appalls me. There is a taint of death, a flavor of mortality in lies -- which is exactly
   what I hate and detest in the world -- what I want to forget’” (p. 23).
*appall: same root as pall, a cloth spread over a coffin or tomb
What kind of story-teller is Marlow?
  not clear
Marlow as listener
  Accountant: “first rate agent”
  Manager: “ill”
  Brick-maker: “emissary of light”
  Manager and uncle: “strange rumors”
  Russian harlequin: “You don’t talk with that man -- you listen to him.”
Why Marlow ?
  “‘You ought to know’”(p. 22).
  “[Kurtz looked] straight in my face and said, ‘I am glad.’ Someone had been writing to him about
  me” (p.55).

“‘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. I was anxious to deal with this shadow of myself alone’” (p. 59).

“‘I remain to dream the nightmare out to the end, and to show my loyalty to Kurtz once more. Destiny.
My destiny! Droll thing life is -- that mysterious arrangement of merciless logic for a futile purpose’”
Marlow as reader
to read: to look at and comprehend the meaning of printed words; to
understand as by interpretation of signs; to make known, to decipher
   book on seamanship
   the silence
   the drums
   the face

“‘… and by the door I picked up a book. It has lost its covers, and the pages had been lovingly stitched
  afresh with white cotton thread,…. Such a book being there was wonderful enough; but still more
  astounding were the notes penciled in the margin, and plainly referring to the text. I couldn’t believe
  my eyes! They were in cipher! Yes, it looked like cipher. Fancy a man lugging with him a book of
  that description into this nowhere and studying it -- and making notes -- in cipher at that! It was an
  extravagant mystery’” (p. 34).

* cipher: a secret code
The Silence
“‘I watched the coast. Watching a coast as it slips by the ship is like thinking about an enigma [read:
   sign, cipher]. There it is before you -- smiling, frowning, inviting, grand, mean, insipid, or savage,
   and always mute with an air of whispering’” (p. 10).

“‘… the silence of the land went home to one’s very heart -- its mystery, its greatness, the amazing
  reality of its concealed life’” (p. 23).
The Drums
“‘A great silence around and above. Perhaps on some quiet night the tremor of far-off drums, sinking,
  swelling, a tremor vast, faint; a sound weird, appealing, suggestive, and wild -- and perhaps with as
  profound a meaning as the sound of bells in a Christian country’” (p. 17).

* church bells: appealing; suggestive of home, of something familiar, something spiritual; ritual
   of religious service, congregation, community, civilization; most important: intelligible

“‘We penetrated deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness. It was very quiet there. At night
  sometimes the roll of drums behind the curtain of trees would run up the river and remain sustained
  faintly, as if hovering in the air high over our heads, till the first break of day. Whether it meant
  war, peace, or prayer we could not tell’” (p. 31).

“‘I saw a row of pilgrims squirting lead in the air out of Winchesters held to the hip. I thought I would
   never get back to the steamer, and imagined myself living alone and unarmed in the woods to an
   advanced age. Such silly things -- you know. And I remember I confounded the beat of the drum
   with the beating of my heart, and was pleased at its calm regularity’” (p. 60).
The face
“‘She came abreast of the steamer, stood still, and faced us. Her long shadow fell to the water’s edge.
   Her face had a tragic and fierce aspect of wild sorrow and of dumb pain mingled with the fear of
   some struggling, half-shaped resolve. She stood looking at us without a stir, and like the wilderness
   itself, with an air of brooding over an inscrutable purpose’” (p. 56).
* inscrutable: that which cannot be searched into or understood
What can words do?
“‘Kurtz discoursed. A voice! A voice! It rang deep to the last. It survived his strength to hide in the
   magnificent folds of eloquence the barren darkness of his heart’” (p. 63).

* words: eloquent
* heart: barren

The danger of words
“‘… Who was not his friend who had heard him speak once?’ she was saying. ‘He drew men towards
  him by what was best in them. …You have heard him! You know!’ she cried.

‘Yes, I know,’ I said with something like despair in my heart, but lowering my head before the faith
  that was in her, before that great and saving illusion that shone with an unearthly glow in the
  darkness” (p. 70).
Travel/reading advisory
“‘I had to keep guessing at the channel; I had to discern, mostly by inspiration, the signs of hidden
   banks; I watched for sunken stones; I was learning to clap my teeth smartly before my heart flew
   out, when I shaved by a fluke some infernal sly old snag that would have ripped the life out of the
   tin-pot steamboat and drowned all the pilgrims’” (p. 30).

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