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Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
Transcript of Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
The novel begins with the presentation of 5 men on a boat, on the river Thames. One of these men is the narrator, called
, who starts telling his experience in Africa.
Once he arrives in Africa he discovers that the men of the company are merely interested in the raid of ivory and everyone talks about a mysterious man,
-imperialism: torture, cruelty, near-slavery (Africans are like objects), corruption -> justified with hypocricy
-colonialism: criticism to Europe
-Madness of the characters: consequences of imperialism and loss of humanity
-Thirst of political and economic power
-Darkness: is the inability to see and it goes through the whole book -> it also refers to human conditions
Conrad criticizes colonialism and all its terrible consequences such as the exploitation of natives and the barbanties. Moreover, through the figure of Kurtz, the author meditates on the evil which is actually the yearning for economical and political power. In addition, he points out the fact that the absence of laws and limits can turn a honest man into a cruel monster. Kurtz's last cry is a sort of moral victory: he had done abominable things but he has the courage to admit his sins.
Joseph Conrad was born in Ukraine in 1857. His family had to leave its country because of political reasons and Joseph’s parents died when he was just a child, thus he lived with an uncle. He moved to France in 1874 and joined the British Merchant Navy in 1878, becoming a British citizen. He died in England in 1924.
Kurtz is ill, so Marlow sets off with some colonists and some cannibal natives on a steamboat.
He discovers the locals regard Kurtz as a god.
On the way back, Kurtz dies.
Back in Europe Marlow meets Kurtz's girlfriend who proves to be extremely dedicated to his man.
Marlow lies to her and finally tells her that Kurtz's last word was her name, instead of "The horror! The horror!".
possibly compared to Conrad
figure of high modernism
traditional hero: tough, honest, indipendent thinker, capable
guide for the reader
he goes against the idea of advancement and profit
sensitive: he suffers a lot and thinking about his experiences
HEART OF DARKNESS
by JOSEPH CONRAD
HEART OF DARKNESS
YEAR OF PUBLICATION:
SETTING IN PLACE/TIME:
ENGLAND; MIDDLE AFRICA (BELGIAN CONGO) -> END OF 19th century
Symbolize the 'evil genius'
he is significant both for his style and eloquence and for his grandiose
Language: complex narrative techniques, with different points of view (three characters)
He is a dreamer; he always wanted to travel to Africa. But he couldn’t imagine how far was the reality from what he expected: slavery, land exploitation. He cannot hate Kurtz for what he did because he admires the ideals he had at the beginning. Marlow understands that Kurtz has been corrupted by the thirst of richness and he believes in his final redemption. Marlow is a complex character; he analyzes all the aspects of the situation giving us a way to understand the story.
He aims only for his personal profit, he doesn’t care about natives’ life, he despises them, he treats them like things. He feels superior. Kurtz wasn’t always like that: once he had ideals, he wanted to civilize black people, not exploit them. However, living in this place turn him into a monster with no moral. The meeting with Marlow will help him because, while he is dying, he recognizes the cruelty and the atrocity of what he did.
A Polish writer