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An Analysis of the Motif of Shoes in Heart of Darkness

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Helena Tomanic

on 19 December 2013

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Transcript of An Analysis of the Motif of Shoes in Heart of Darkness

An Analysis of the Motif of Shoes in
Heart of Darkness

Textual Evidence - Phase 1
"The whole population
cleared into
the
forest
expecting all kinds of
calamities
to happen, while, on the other hand, the steamer Fresleven commanded left also in a
bad panic
, in charge of the engineer,
I believe
. Afterwards nobody seemed to trouble much about Fresleven's
remains

till I got out
and
stepped into his shoes
. I
couldn't let it rest
, though, but when an
opportunity
offered at last to meet my
predecessor
, the
grass

growing through his ribs
was
tall
enough to hide his
bones
." (9)
Textual Evidence - Phase 2
"To tell you the truth, I was
morbid
ly
anxious
to change my
shoes and socks
.

'He is
dead
,'
murmured the fellow immensely
impressed
.
'No doubt about it,'
said I tugging
like mad
at the
shoe-laces
.
" (46-47)
Textual Evidence - Phase 3
"I couldn't have been been more
disgusted
if I had travelled all this way for the
sole
purpose of
talking

with
Mr. Kurtz.
Talking with
... I
flung one shoe overboard
and
became aware
that that was exactly what I had been looking forward to--
a talk with
Kurtz." (47)
Conclusion
Assertion
In Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness, the motif of shoes is utilized as a characterization device of the protagonist, Marlow, who undergoes a metamorphosis in which he loses and regains his identity on his journey through the wilderness of Africa and the Company.
What is your favorite type of shoe?
Textual Evidence - Phase 3 Continued
"The
other shoe
went flying into the
devil-god
of that river. I thought,
By Jove!
it's
all over
. We are
too late
; he has
vanished
--the
gift has vanished
by means of some
spear, arrow, or club
. I will never hear that chap speak after all--and my
sorrow
had a startling
extravagance of emotion
, even such as I had noticed in the
howling sorrow
of these savages in the bush." (47)

What is this called?
Conrad places importance in shoes in this novel in order to demonstrate the various pathways that Marlow could have taken and ultimately chose to take. Although Marlow initially craved and chose the path of the Company through the shoes of Fresleven, he was eventually able to escape the legacy of insanity and rage that both Fresleven and Kurtz left for him by finding his own shoes to leave footprints behind with.
"the
blade
has gone in out of sight after making a frightful
gash
;
my shoes were full
; a
pool of blood
lay very still gleaming
dark-red
under the wheel" (46)
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