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Archetypal Criticism in heart of darkness

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Ali Kehl

on 12 November 2015

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Transcript of Archetypal Criticism in heart of darkness

Carl Jung
-Swiss psychologist/psychiatrist who was a student of Freud
-all individuals share a collective, universal and impersonal nature which is identical
-themes, images and symbols that we all inherit from past generations

Northrop Frye
Creator of the anatomy of criticism
what are they?!
Archetypal Criticism in
heart of darkness

The Collective Unconscious
-concept that human beings all around the world have the same basic experiences and use similar symbols to describe these events
-represent typical situations in life that everyone can relate to
-instinctive and shared by all regions and races, regardless of human contact with one another
-however, they can change over time
Jung's Five Main Archetypes
1. self
-center which all other archetypes revolve around
-center of one's entire personality (consciousness, unconsciousness and ego)
2. Shadow
-qualities one possesses, but usually don't act on
-like the animal instincts each person carries that are usually suppressed at a young age
3. anima
-female soul image of a man
4. animus
-male soul image of a female
5. Persona
-the "mask" everyone wears when adapting to different people and situations
-presenting different aspects of yourself in order to fit into the surroundings
"The myth is the archetype."
-combines both
-the hero always has a quest, mission, journey he needs to fulfill
fulfills quest
fails quest
-God is always a "character" in literature
1. Human World
5 worlds in the tragic story
-world of tyranny, anarchy
-leader with his back to his followers
2. Animal world
3. vegetable world
4. mineral world
5. unformed world
-a river
-water monsters
"But there was in it one river especially, a mighty an immense snake uncoiled, with its head in the sea, its body at rest curving afar over a fast country, and it's tail lost in the depths of the land." (Conrad, 5-6)
-sinister geometrical images
"In a very few hours I arrived in a city that always made me think of a whited sepulchre. Prejudice no doubt." (Conrad, 14)
-sinister forest
-opening of the Inferno
-seen in terms of beasts, serpents, vultures
"The snake had charmed me." (Conrad, 11)
"They were conquerors, and for that you want only brute force-nothing to boast of, when you have it, since your strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of others." (Conrad, 9)
Marlow vs. Kurts
Kurtz as marlow's shadow
-often a person who presents opposing characteristics to the hero
-relies on animal instincts
Kurtz literally becomes the "darkness after spending so much time in it.
"The wilderness....had caressed him, and--lo! he had withered; it had taken him, loved him, embraced him, got into his veins, consumed his flesh, and sealed his soul to its own by inconceivable ceremonies of some devilish initiation." (Conrad, 44)
contrast between the two
-it doesn't take much to become your shadow self
-you just need to activate the qualities in yourself to explore your own darkness
"True, he had made that last stride he had stepped over the edge, while I had been permitted to draw back my hesitating foot." (Conrad, 65)
Marlow compares himself to Kurts:
"The shadow looked satiated and calm." (Conrad, 55)
"I was anxious to deal with this shadow by myself alone." (Conrad, 59)
When the pilgrims carry Kurtz out on a stretcher:
When Marlow discovers Kurtz missing from the cabin:
Marlow's quotes about his shadow
When he finds Kurtz crawling in the bush:
"This clearly was not the case for fisticuffs, even apart from the very natural aversion I have to beat that Shadow." (Conrad, 60)
When Marlow pays a visit to the Intended he has a vision of Kurtz:
"I had a vision of him...as...a shadow insatiable of splendid appearances...a shadow darker than the shadow of the night." (Conrad, 124)
Jung states that the shadow is:

"The negative side of the personality...the sum of all those unpleasant qualities we like to hide."
"His was an impenetrable darkness. I looked at him as you peer down at a man who is lying at the bottom of a precipice where the sun never shines." (Conrad, 117)
Intended/Savage Women
Kurtz not only represents the shadow of Marlow, but the shadow of all of Europeans who didn't know what was going on in the Congo.
"All of Europe contributed to the making of Kurtz." (Conrad, 45)
female soul image
Savage Women
feminine soul of the wild
"She walked with measured steps, draped in striped and fringed clothes, treading the earth proudly, with a slight jingle and flash of barbarous ornaments. 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." (Conrad, 56)
"She was savage and superb, wild-eyed and magnificent; there was something ominous and stately in her deliberate progress. And in the hush that had fallen suddenly on the whole sorrowful land, the immense wilderness, the colossal body of the fecund and mysterious life seemed to look at her, pensive, as though it had been looking at the image of its own tenacious and passionate soul." (Conrad, 56)
-she is a reflection of the wilderness and she is the wilderness
-last image you see as they leave the Heart of Darkness
Combination of the intended and the savage women
last sight of savage woman:
"Suddenly she opened her bare arms and threw them up rigid above her head, as though in an uncontrollable desire to touch the sky, and at the same time the swift shadows darted out on the each, swept around on the river, gathering the streamer into a shadowy embrace." (Conrad, 56)
first sight of the intended:
"She put her arms as if after a retreating figure, stretching them back and with clasped pale hands across the fading and narrow sheen of the window...I shall see this eloquent phantom as long as I live, and I shall see her too, a tragic and familiar Shade, resembling this gesture another one, tragic also, and bedecked with powerless charms, stretching bare brown arms over the glitter of the infernal steam, the steam of darkness." (Conrad, 130)
The Intended
-represents the innocence of every human being
-she is England, and all the other European counties who knew not of the horror and pain that was going on in the Congo
-inner personality and attitude of humans
"the archetype of the unconscious" - Richard Hughs
The harlequin
"approach cautiously." (Conrad, 110)
-in dreams, when you see a clown it is never a good sign...therefore the harlequin is a warning sign

"It seems to me I am trying to tell you a dream--making a vain attempt, because no relation of a dream can convey the dream sensation." (Conrad, 24)
"The living trees, lashed together by the creepers and every living bush of the undergrowth, might have been changed into stone...it was unnatural." (Conrad, 65)
Minds On
What words come to mind when you see these pictures?
White is corrupted and misleading:
Kurtz, "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." (Conrad, 138)
Black is naïve and pure:
the fireman, "that should the water in that transparent thing disappear, the evil spirit inside the boiler would get angry through the greatness of his thirst, and take a terrible vengeance." (Conrad, 110)
Old Women Knitting Black Wool
-"In the outer room the two women knitted black wool feverishly"
What Does This Symbolize?
- A reference to Greek Mythology`s Moirae, and the 3 sisters of fate!
- Each sister has their job:
1. Clotho - spins the thread of life
2. Lacheis - measures the thread of life and assigns the persons destiny
3. Atropos - Cuts the thread of life with the shears
Archetypal Relevance
-The old ladies knitting the wool represent the possibility that Marlow may meet his fate his decent into the Heart of the Congo.

-This is also a representation of light vs dark symbolism, that Conrad displays the darkness represents the truth and the light blinds is from the truth and is unreliable

-the black wool represents the truth about the Congo, and how Marlow will meet his fate (not death but Kurtz).

(Conrad, 75)
-"She glanced at me above the glasses. The swift and indifferent placidity of that look troubled me."
-"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,"
- "She wore a starched white affair on her head, had a wart on one cheek, and silver-rimmed spectacles hung on the tip of her nose."
Heart of Darkness
The wilderness in the book is shown as the 9 rings of hell:


"we penetrated deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness. It was quiet there." (Conrad, 108)

"the rest of the world was nowhere, as far as our eyes and ears were concerned. Just nowhere. Gone, disappeared; swept off without leaving a whisper or shadow behind." (Conrad, 114)
Kurtz as Lucifer/Satan
Kurtz represents the embodiment of Lucifer/Satan.

"the man presented himself as a voice." (Conrad, 123)

"A voice! a voice! It was grave, profound, vibrating, while the man did not seem capable of a whisper." (Conrad, 141)

"men looked up to him-his goodness shone in every act." (Conrad, 163)

"because his method is unsound." (Conrad, 143)

Archetypal Symbolism of Flies

Kurtz's Compoud
-"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." (Conrad, 98)
Significance of Skulls
-oldest/most powerful symbol
-many different meanings: fear/caution, vanity, death, change, good/bad luck
-can also represent: protection, strength, power, fearlessness, wisdom or guidance.
meanings vary depending on culture and society.
Skulls in Relation to Heart of Darkness
-"they were expressive and puzzling, striking and disturbing" (Conrad, 97)
-first sight of the skulls gave off mixed emotions of the symbol.

-"Curious this feeling that came over me that such details would be more intolerable than those heads drying on the stakes under Mr. Kurtz's window."(Conrad, 124)
- compares this feeling after Kurtz's death to how he felt seeing the skulls
-"A continuous shower of small flies streamed upon the lamp, upon the cloth, upon our hands and faces." (Conrad 154)

-"The sick man was too ill to groan. The flies buzzed in a great peace." (Conrad 86)

-"In the steady buzz of flies the homeward-bound agent was lying finished and insensible," (Conrad 86)

-"They must have been dying like flies here." (Conrad 69)

Relevance to Symbolism
-Most can agree that flies are related to death, which is the only thing lies are related to in the novella
-When flies were mention it was either for death or because of death
-Conrad creates this as a universal symbol of death that almost anyone could relate to.
Symbolism of the "Whited Sepulchre"
In a very few hours I arrived in a city that always makes me think of a whited sepulchre. (Conrad 73)
What is a Sepulchre?

-A hyprocrite, and a whited sepulchre is the same as saying white hypocrite (Europeans)
So what??
-Conrad uses, "Whited Sepulchre," as a biblical allusion!!

In the bible it reads:
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. (Matthew 23:27)

-Matthew says that people portray beauty on the outside but are dark and dirty on the inside.
The Tie In
-Conrad is linking the Europeans to what Matthew has said in the bible.
-The land of Europe is a beautiful place but is filled with a dirty past and ,he has not yet found out, a dirt filled present!
-Ex. the beautiful ivory, comes from a place of extreme slavery
Time for a quick game, so get off your phone!!!
1. A picture will appear resembling sections of the novella
2. Write down what you think the symbolism of the photo
3. At the end, we will take up your answers and see if they are correct
Picture 1
Picture 3
Most Correct Answers!
Picture 1:
The fog- When Marlow is faced with the fog, he can only see what is just infront of him and is scared of what could be ahead (a rock, the shore, he natives, etc). The fog represents Marlows's journey to Kurtz. Marlow has heard the stories, seen the damage and is now about to face the real deal but is scared of what might still be to come

Picture 2:
Heads on Sticks- Most of you most likely said danger or warning, but what they really represent is sacrifice to the highest power. Marlow sees the heads on sticks and is told that they might be the heads of people trying to take power away from Kurtz so these heads were sacrificed to him, this is similarly written in Lord of the Flies as the pig head on the stick was a sacrifice to the higher power (who they thought was the mountain monster).

Picture 3:
Congo river- The river may be shaped like a snake but the symbolism of the river is actually the journey taken on it. On Marlow's journey he learns a lot about himself, others, traditions, cultures, etc. Marlow's journey on the river represents the weaving journey of life, from the time we are born to our final breath we learn a lot about ourselves through other people cultures, traditions, etc. But life as we know it isn't perfect and if you dig to deep, you might not like what you find.
*Many of these symbols also relate to Light vs dark / White vs Black
- savage sight (violent, uncontrolled)
-"lightless region of subtle horrors." (Conrad, 98)
-heads of rebels

"Its first result was to make me throw my head back as if before a blow." (Conrad, 97)
-first reaction to the heads on stakes
Echoes to Kurtz's Compound
Hamlet- "Why, then, ’tis none to you, for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so. To me it is a prison." (Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2, 246-247)
-Comparing Denmark to a prison

Lord of the Flies- “He found himself understanding the wearisomeness of this life, where every path was an improvisation and a considerable part of one's waking life was spent watching one's feet.” (Golding, Chapter 6)
-abandoned on the island, had to keep watch at all times.
Pilgrims in Real Life
-English men and women
-Seeking religious freedom in the world
-wanted a fresh start with dangerous desires
-had different beliefs than the rest of the English
-finding a place to practice their own religion
-celebrated their harvest and created the first Thanksigiving
-found a new way of life and religion
Pilgrims in Heart of Darkness
"I had the manager on board and three or four pilgrims with their staves-all complete." (Conrad, 57)
-ironic archetype- pilgrims in real life viewed as good, pilgrims in heart of darkness are lying to sound good
-hiding the fact they're only searching for ivory
-seen as pilgrims because they had long stakes
- were used to allow them into Africa
-like lying or wearing a mask to cover

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