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Heart of Darkness

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kathryn balina

on 21 September 2012

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Transcript of Heart of Darkness

The Psychological Point of View Heart of Darkness CONNECTION TO THE CHARACTERS

Theme: The balance of our psyches include the suppression of id with our ego and superego, but when that balance is disturbed, we will be led to our ultimate demise
When Kurtz goes into the forest, he slowly gives in to his basic instincts, and becomes less and less of a white man and more and more of the primal homo sapien
His inability to suppress his id gradually leads to insanity, and eventually, his death
His primitive form not only kills him, but also horrifies him Heart of Darkness could mean...
1. The literal darkness of the jungle
2. We as humans have a heart of darkness, we are ultimately instinct-driven (id)
Either way, it emphasizes the fact that darkness exists everywhere, and certainly in the heart of every man. This idea is equivalent to Freud's concept of id. Analyzing the title:
• People are called by their professions because it is the only thing that matters.
• Everything that Kurtz does is only about money and power.
• Kurtz is corrupted by the amount of power given to him as a manager. “the uttermost ends of the earth [...] seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness” (164) -Darkness is inevitable, it lies in the heart of every man in the form of id "I saw on that ivory face the expression of sombre pride, of ruthless power, of craven terror-of an intense and hopeless despair. Did he live his life again in every detail of desire, temptation, and surrender during that supreme moment of complete knowledge? He cried in a whisper at some image, at some vision-he cried out twice, a cry that was no more than a breath: "The horror! The horror!'" (153-154) CONRAD IS USING KURTZ AS A
WARNING TO ALL OF US. The farther into the Congo Marlow ventures, the more physically and morally dark it becomes. The "Id" can overcome the ego and superego
if one departs from society and its moral
values and ultimately lead to one's demise. The Power of "Id" QUOTE: "All Europe contributed to the making of Kurtz"
Back in Europe, Kurtz is not only a civilized, but an ambitious, intellectual, eloquent man.
Kurtz is built on the principles of his society
Even though he is ambitious, his ego, at this point, holds a tight leash on the greed that springs from his id. The "Whispers" of his Id "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-- the whisper proved irresistibly fascinating." (3.3) Kurtz is intrigued by the wilderness
whisper= instinctual-drive and greed
Reveals to him his own primitive
instincts He forgot himself, you know "He hated all this, and somehow he couldn't get away. When I had a chance, I begged him to try and leave while there was time; I offered to go back with him. And he would say yes, and then he would remain; go off on another ivory hunt; disappear for weeks; forget himself amongst these people--forget himself--you know" (3.2) The "whisper" grows louder the farther he goes
The jungle has no rules or regulations
Kurtz will "forget himself" or a.k.a his ego
His ego and super ego grow weaker
loses all sense of "self" The Superego The Madness Superego= Sense of right and wrong,
basically our own morality.

2 components:
Ego Ideal:

Conscience: “But his soul was mad. Being alone in the wilderness, it had looked within itself and, by heavens I tell you, it had gone mad.” Kurtz's lack of restrain of his instinctual
drive for ivory led him to his own end.
Thus, even the most civilized people can
end up like Kurtz. Quote #1 As seen in the last moments of Kurtz's life. "The Horror! The Horror!" (154). In Heart of Darkness There is a transition in the story from different levels of the psyche... 1. Ego: Before they arrive to Africa.
2. Id: Grows as they get deeper into the jungle.
Kurtz is consumed by ivory throughout the story.
Even Marlow succumbs to "the exaltation"of Kurtz.
3. Super-ego: Seen in the resolution of the story. "I was fascinated. It was as though a veil had been rent. I saw on that ivory face the expression of sombre pride, of ruthless power, of craven terror - of an intense and hopeless despair. Did he live his life again in every detail of desire, temptation, and surrender during that supreme moment of complete knowledge? Pride and power, but "intense and hopeless despair."
As Kurt looks back, he knows he did wrong.
Use of rhetorical question: "supreme moment of complete knowledge"= morality?
Marlow witnessed this and this is his own reflection= explanation. “‘Would they have fallen, I wonder, if I had rendered Kurtz that justice which was due? Hadn’t he said he wanted only justice? But I couldn’t. I could not tellher. It would have been too dark- too dark altogether...’ Marlow ceased, and sat apart[...]in the pose of a meditating Buddha,” (164). Quote#2 As seen in last moments of enlightenment in Marlow's life. Addresses his own morality.
Rejects darkness.
Buddha=religion, morality.
Meditation= pensive mode. -Out in the darkness, without institution, Kurtz shows no inclination towards organization or moral values (ego or superego) -Removal from society causes man to revert to his most crude mentality, the id. The id seeks instant pleasure. Kurtz clearly did not consider the effects his actions might have until a final moment of moral reflection, so it is clear that he embodies the idea of id during his time in the Congo "The horror! The horror!" In short: All men are naturally bad in that their id is the most inherent, relied-upon level of the psyche, unless it is suppressed by the ego or superego (which usually happens only in the presence of civilization) “The brown current ran swiftly out of the heart of darkness [...] and Kurtz’s life was running swiftly, too, ebbing, ebbing out of his heart into the sea,” (151) -As they exit the darkness of the Congo and set out for civilization, Kurtz's inner darkness ebbs away as well -Essentially, his id is being suppressed by the presence of society and its moral expectations In his last moments, Kurtz is finally able to see what has happened to him. Conrad is telling us that the place we would be at if our psyche lost balance would send us into a terrible place. Master and Slave Moralities in Kurtz As we've seen throughout the story, Mr. Kurtz has many aspects of Nietzsche's master morality, such as greed:
fame Id


Superego Freudian Complex innermost animal instinct inclination toward organization moral values *Kurtz has an internal battle between ego and id
*Ego enables him to carry out his id
*Ego is maintained through society
*Kurtz’s power leads him to manipulate inferiors
*Once order and civil behavior are gone id takes control turning one into a savage Conclusion Kurtz's slave morality is shown through various aspects of the story such as:
his relationship with a native mistress
his lack of conformity to the European ideals of imperialism
his vulnerability when Marlow convinces him to come back to the ship
his name meaning "short." Master and Slave Moralities in Marlow Marlow's master morality is shown in his superiority over the Africans in the beginning of the story and his longing to be just like Kurtz and have his fame and "legacy." His slave morality is presented through his kind act of compassion after giving the hungry African a biscuit and after defending Kurtz. The ideal of perfection that
the ego strives to emulate. CONRAD IS USING KURTZ AS A WARNING. In Freud's psychoanalytic theory of personality, the conscience is the part of the superego that includes information about things that are viewed as bad by parents and society. These behaviors are often forbidden and lead to bad consequences, punishments, or feelings of guilt and remorse. Ego Ego is created by society. *The desire for order is ingrained within us
*Kurtz prior to exposure of the jungle = order (wants to make an effort to civilize)
* Ego can only suppress but cannot fully overcome the id
Ex. Kurtz digression into a savage
“Mr. Kurtz crawled as much as the veriest savage of all” (103). "He [Kurtz] won't be forgotten. Whatever he was, he was not common. He had the power to charm or frighten rudimentary souls into an aggravated witch-dance in his honour; he could also fill the small souls of the pilgrims with bitter misgivings: he had one devoted friend at least, and he had conquered one soul in the world that was neither rudimentary nor tainted with self-seeking. No; I can't forget him, though I am not prepared to affirm the fellow was exactly worth the life we lost in getting to him." (2.29) Kurtz’s background of civilization provides him with a platform to push his belief of organization upon others. Works Cited
Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. New York: Knopf, 1993. Print.
"Id." Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com, n.d. Web. 8 Sept. 2012. <http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/id?s=t>.
"Id Ego Superego." Reference.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 8 Sept. 2012. <http://www.reference.com/motif/science/id-ego-superego>.
"Superego." Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com, n.d. Web. 8 Sept. 2012. <http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/superego?s=t>. The duality present in this book makes the meaning so complex that it is necessary to view through a psychological perspective to understand these connections. The End
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