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Heart of Darkness

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Lindsay Reenders

on 28 February 2013

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Transcript of Heart of Darkness

As Mad as a Hatter Jessica
Lindsay Have I gone mad? Theme of Madness "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....
Ever any madness in your family?" he asked, in a matter-of-fact tone.
Page 15-16 "There was a touch of insanity in the proceeding, a sense of lugubrious drollery in the sight; and it was not dissipated by somebody on board assuring me earnestly there was a camp of natives - he called them enemies! - hidden out of sight somewhere."
Page 20 The doctor makes a direct statement, matter of fact-ly, that the men who go into the African interior go mad. As an interest to science the doctor measured the skull to represent a physical change to one’s self due to the madness, to which he explains that the changes take place inside as well. He also states that those who go to Africa never come back. "But his soul was mad. Being alone in the wilderness, it had looked within itself and, by heavens I tell you, it had gone mad."
Page 100 Marlow takes note as soon as he begins his journey into the heart of Africa that there there is something insane happening. For example, the French Man-O-War that was firing at what seemed to be nothing. The term lugubrious drollery means sad or dismal whimsical action or behavior. Here Conrad also ties the natives to the madness that ensues, them being almost the blame to the pilgrims madness. In Joseph Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness' the developing theme of madness is defined and revealed as something that is inherently inside of everyone but is uncovered by certain circumstances, such as being removed from society and the moral standards and boundaries. Heart of Darkness "But the wilderness found him out early, and had taken vengeance for the fantastic invasion. I think it had whispered to him things about himself which he did not know, things of which he had no conception till he took counsel with this great solitude--and the whisper had proved irresistibly fascinating. It echoed loudly within him because he was hollow at the core."
Page 87 Here are two perfect examples of how the African wilderness affected it's victims in 'The Heart of Darkness.' Solitude brought the darkness into the minds of the helpless which was a factor in making them go mad. "I tried to break the spell--the heavy, mute spell of the wilderness--that seemed to draw him to its pitiless breast by the awakening of forgotten and brutal instincts, by the memory of gratified and monstrous passions. This alone, I was convinced, had driven him out to the edge of the forest, to the bush, towards the gleam of fires, the throb of drums, the drone of weird incantations; this alone had beguiled his unlawful soul beyond the bounds of permitted aspirations."
Page 99 "Marlow describes the madness almost as though it were a living thing; something that would inevitably conquer those who entered Africa's wilderness. The strength and power of the madness is clearly seen through Marlow's story, specifically in this quote. As was stated in previously, the madness is tied to the natives of Africa which is described by the "gleam of fires, the throb of drums, [and] the drone of weird incantations." This is what drove Kurtz to madness. How does Conrad define madness? How is Kurtz the ultimate embodiment of madness? Conrad defines madness when man is removed from society's morals and restrictions, he begins to lose sense of moral boundaries and in doing so goes on the break of madness. What symptoms accompany the onset of madness in Heart of Darkness? What human faculties begin to break down? Describe Marlow’s slow succumbing to madness. You could also argue that he doesn’t succumb to madness – whatever floats your boat. In Heart of Darkness, the human faculties which begin to break down are the ideas of self-assurance of sanity and self-respect. As Marlow sees the native slaves and how dejected they appear, and how lowly the generals look on them, he develops a sympathy for them as he realizes that imperialism of other humans is inhumane and unjust. Marlow slowly succumbs to madness because he is so similar to Kurtz, who is insane. He has an unexplainable respect for Kurtz, which makes him strangely attracted to his mannerisms, leading him in the direction of madness. Is madness caused by the trip up the Congo River and into the interior? Or is it something that is born into man, regardless of his environment? In other words, is madness caused by inherent nature or environment and experience? We believe that madness involves both. Every man is capable of madness due to his inherent nature, but it remains dormant until one is placed into a certain environment or goes through an experience that reveals the madness and awakens the dormant aspects. Can the harlequin be seen as a bridge between madness and sanity? How do his words make sense yet seem like folly to Marlow? How does Marlow relate to the harlequin? What does this say about Marlow’s state of sanity? The harlequin is indeed a bridge between madness and sanity because he praises Kurtz in such a way that he makes madness look acceptable. The way that he idolizes Kurtz further pushes and influences Marlow to want to be like Kurtz. Marlow has a fascination with Kurtz from the very beginning of the novel. The harlequin’s words to Marlow make sense in a odd way because even though the harlequin himself is mad, Marlow is on the bridge of madness, and therefore understands and self-applies to the harlequin’s crazy words. Marlow relates to the harlequin in that they both are absolutely taken aback by Kurtz and how amazing they both find him to be, which also suggests that Marlow’s inner madness was brought out by the experience he has in Africa. Works Cited Bloom, Harold. Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. New York: Chelsea House, 2008. Print. Conrad, Joseph, and Joseph Conrad. Heart of Darkness ; The Secret Sharer. New York: Bantam, 1981. Print. "Heart of Darkness." SparkNotes. SparkNotes, n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2013. "Heart of Darkness Theme of Madness." Shmoop. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Feb. 2013.
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