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Contrasting Imagery and Characters in Heart of Darkness

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Matthew Dudgeon

on 2 May 2014

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Transcript of Contrasting Imagery and Characters in Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness
By: Joseph Conrad
Published: February 1899
Contrasting Imagery and Characters in
Heart of Darkness

Light can represent darkness; things are not always what they seem. Darkness, associated with evil and peril, can symbolize light.
The white women in the Company office are knitting with black wool.
The white fog is intended to represent danger. Marlow’s steamer is caught in the fog; his sense of direction is destroyed - he does not know up from down.
"Sunlight can be made to lie, too" (3.50).
Kurtz's intended is portrayed as a "pale head" dressed "all in black".
Ivory is white. English colonialists seek ivory for wealth and recognition. Their pursuit of ivory is dark and dangerous = Kurtz.
By: Hannah and Matt
Contrasting Imagery and Characters in
Heart of Darkness

Kurtz's native mistress/Kurtz's fiance
Company Doctor's theory of the human head/Kurtz's collection of human skulls.
The Doctor believes that men who travel to Africa in pursuit of fortune irrevocably become murderous and obsessive.
Kurtz's collection of skulls exemplifies darkness; Kurtz has gone insane.
The Company Doctor was correct in his diagnosis.
The skulls symbolize Kurtz's excessive brutality.
Kurtz has become an animal; his insatiable hunger for ivory drove him to make alliances and enemies - committed heinous deeds.
"The changes take place inside, you know" (1.17)
The doctor basically foretells the mental change that occurs within English colonialists who travel to Africa.
Kurtz receives a sickness - it is a physical representation of his own mental state.
Over-indulgence = English Imperialism drove men insane; good intentions - extending the Western world - became bad intentions.
Self-control: Men like Kurtz possess nothing but insatiable greed. The 'control' they once attained is not apparent.
The pursuit of Ivory and the enslavement of African Natives - developed due to self interest and greed.
Ivory is used as a symbol of greed and lust = POWER.
The English become so involved in the trade of Ivory that they change mentally; their good intentions become purely idealistic - they no longer exist.
Kurtz is viewed as a saint: he is admired and respected by his fellow colonialists.
In reality he is the complete opposite; he lives in a hut surrounded by his collection of skulls alongside his native mistress. He is a greedy, murderous man.
"Whether [Kurtz] knew of this deficiency [lacking restraint in gratification of his lust] I can't say." (3.5)
Kurtz's fiance is portrayed as a beautiful woman = a symbol of light and heaven.
She believes that she knows Kurtz better than anyone else in his life.
She considers him a saint and believes that she alone is the single most definitive authority in his character.
His native mistress is portrayed as a living embodiment of power and control.
"She was savage and superb, wild-eyed and magnificent; there was something ominous and stately in her deliberate process." (3.60)
Kurtz's intended is described as his "perfect societal match" in colonial England.
Kurtz's native mistress is displayed as an embodiment of Africa. She carries an array of beads, tattoos, and jewelry = BOLD.
Kurtz's fiance is a symbol of what an English woman should be, whereas his native mistress is a figure of African power.
Kurtz's fiance is as bland as the color white; she is uninteresting and lifeless.
Kurtz's native mistress is down-to-earth and truly understood Kurtz for who he really was.
Marlow lies to Kurtz's fiance; he believes that she lives in a surreal world and cannot accept reality - could not handle the truth about Kurtz.
Women knitters/Marlow's Aunt
The knitters are socially 'proper' women; they knit and arrange meetings - secretarial status.
Marlow's Aunt takes matters into her own hands; organizes Marlow's business venture at the Company.
The two knitting women personify ancient Greek Moirai. These mythical women are also known as the Three Fates.
Two Fates spin the life thread of life and the third cuts it - the knitting women foreshadow danger and death.
"They seemed to know all about them and about me, too. An eerie feeling came over me." (1.24)
Marlow's Aunt was over-eager to get Marlow a job in Africa.
She is oblivious to the ways of the world; possesses an idealistic view of colonialism.
Believes that Marlow will spread the greatness of the western world to the "Dark Continent" - does not realize how 'dark' colonialism can be.
Blood Diamond
Plot summary: In 1999, Sierra Leone, set against a backdrop of civil war and chaos, Blood Diamond is the story of Danny Archer, an ex-mercenary from Zimbabwe.
Archer is a diamond smuggler.
He consolidates a partnership with a fisherman named Solomon Vandy, who was enslaved after his village was raided by rebels.
Solomon was forced to work at an illegal diamond mine and discovered a pink diamond.
He hid the diamond; alongside Archer, Solomon attempted to regain the diamond to save his family.
Wanted to prevent further conflict - American industrialists and African Mercenaries wanted the diamond for profit.
Archer wanted the diamond for himself - discards his greedy intentions by the conclusion of the movie.

Light/dark; at the beginning, Archer is a symbol of darkness. At the conclusion of the movie he becomes a symbol of light due to his selfless actions.
American Industrialists/English Colonialists - They strive for success; their intentions are violent and result from greed.
Diamonds/Ivory - Represent goodness, happiness, and light -. the struggle to obtain these objects creates conflict = DARKNESS
Both comparisons involve violence = Murder and Enslavement. Kurtz manipulates African tribes and cruel mercenaries brainwash children; their actions are devised in regard of self-gain.
Blood Diamond
1.5 out of 10 diamonds are blood diamonds: originate in Africa.
Industrialists in North America purchase blood diamonds; companies receive profit = MONEY and SUCCESS.
Blood diamonds are used to fuel conflict and war.
Diamonds funded the civil war in Angola during the 1990's.
Off-budget revenues from diamond mining have funded brutal wars in Liberia. Sierra Leone, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Cote d'Ivoire - have resulted in the death and displacement of thousands of people.
1.) Light/Dark
2.) Women Knitters/Marlow's Aunt
3.) Self-control/Over-indulgence
4.) Kurtz's native mistress/Kurtz's fiance
5.) Company Doctor/Human Skulls
6.) Out of text example;
Blood Diamond
Comparisons with
Heart of Darkness
7.) Bibliography
Full transcript