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Heart of Darkness Group Commentary

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Isabella Gianani

on 14 May 2014

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Transcript of Heart of Darkness Group Commentary

In order for one to retain their humanity in the heart of darkness, they must maintain human contact and value it over material objects.

The Forest
Imagery of the forest is used to paint the forest as dark, ominous and unforgiving

• “At night sometimes the roll of drums behind the curtain of trees would run up the river and remain sustained faintly... the wood-cutters slept, their fires burned low; the snapping of a twig would make you start
• shows the forest as ominous by using the phrase" curtain of trees" which displays a picture of mystery and isolation to the reader
• creates the forest as a forbidding place- "the snapping of a twig would make you start", intensifies the fear in the reader and thus paints the forest as forbidding
• By connoting an ominous and fearful image with the forest it shows how easy it is for characters to get caught up in its darkness and thus loose their humanity

The imagery is used to make the cannibals a representation of humanity, in contrast with the manager and pilgrims who only value ivory and title

“with twenty cannibals splashing around and pushing. We had enlisted some of these chaps on the way for a crew. Fine fellows—cannibals—in their place. They were men one could work with, and I am grateful to them. And, after all, they did not eat each other before my face: they had brought along a provision of hippo-meat which went rotten, and made the mystery of the wilderness stink in my nostrils. Phoo! I can sniff it now. I had the manager on board and three or four pilgrims with their staves—all complete.”

depicts the cannibals as decently reasonable people compared with the natives and the manager
by including food as their only provision, the cannibals are seen, in Marlow's eyes, as much more humane than the manager and pilgrims
in comparison with the Pilgrims' staves, the hippo meat seems more human and innocent - they simply want to survive
By Isabella, Emma,
Elena, and Julia
Heart of Darkness Group Commentary
The Sluggish Beetle
Passage #4
pg. 34-36 from "I beg your pardon..." to "The earth seemed unearthly"
By Isabella, Emma, Julia, and Elena
Ivory stands for not only the goal of the invaders, but also for the transition which identifies their loss of humanity
the closer they get to their goal, the stronger the spell is that keeps them bound to that idealistic dream
as the spell grows, they lose their humanity more and more

“the white men… seemed very strange, - had the appearance of being held there captive by a spell,”
Author uses word 'Spell' to create mood
Spell has connotations of sinister and unearthly
which connects to ivory as ivory creates spell over people seeking it, creating a loss of humanity

“the word ivory would ring in the air for a while – and on we went again into the silence, along empty reaches…
This word becomes desirable and tangible

Imagery of the Sluggish beetle is used to accentuate the helplessness of Humanity and the need for human interaction

• “Trees, trees, millions of trees, massive, immense, running up high; and at their foot, hugging the bank against the stream, crept the little begrimed steamboat, like a sluggish beetle crawling on the floor of a lofty portico”
Demonstrates How out of place the humans are in this environment and therefore it can be inferred that It would be quite easy to lose ones sense of humanity

• “ It made you feel very small, very lost, and yet it was not altogether depressing, that feeling. After all, if you were small, the grimy beetle crawled on—which was just what you wanted it to do... For me it crawled toward Kurtz—exclusively”
Here, Marlow is commenting on how helplessness is not necessarily a negative thing as long as progress is being made
Should be noted that the main motivation for Marlow is kurtz

Marlow maintains his positivity and life at prospect of real human interaction; as opposed to ivory
Full transcript