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Heart of Darkness

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Kristine Nguyen

on 19 February 2016

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Transcript of Heart of Darkness

Marlow
“I did not betray Mr. Kurtz -it was ordered I should never betray him- it was written that I should be loyal to the nightmare of my choice.” (147)
- Marlow maintained loyalty to Kurtz no matter what, he felt responsible towards most, if not ever, aspect of Kurtz.
“The last words he pronounced was - your name.” (164)
- Even with spending a lot of time within the jungle, Marlow was able to maintain his sense of humanity. He was still emotional and empathized with others.
"They were conquerors, and for that you want only brute force [...]" (76)
-Marlow throughout the novel feels conflicted about what he feels towards the colonist. At times he adores their work and sides with them; while at other times he feels like the way they treat the natives is too brutal.
Literary Devices Part 1
“And the river was there - fascinating - deadly- like a snake.” (74)
- This is a metaphor as it is comparing the river to a snake. Snakes tend to lure their prey in and swallow them whole. The quote shows how those that go into the river get consumed by their surroundings. It is also an allusion back to the Bible, as the snake tempted Eve to eat the apple. Since she ate the apple, she bought an irreversible change that affected her life in a bad way.
"In the outer room the two women knitted wool feverishly." (75)
- This is an allegory due to how the color black symbolizes death. The women were knitting black which freaked Marlow out a bit as he went in to get interviewed. The fact that they were knitting it feverishly implies that death is coming quickly and it is inevitable.
Resolution
Literary Devices Part 2
“The earth seemed unearthly.” (108)
- This is an antithesis as the earth is not supposed to seem unearthly. It is saying that the elements that make the earth what it is have been stripped, leaving an earth that was unearthly. The Europeans' work disrupted nature and created an industrial land in a place that it did not belong.
“He was an improved specimen [...]” (109)
- This is a metaphor as it demonstrates how a native could become "an improved specimen." Marlow considered this native to be enhanced due to their knowledge of how to work a boiler. That shows how Europeans considered those who could work their technology to be advanced.
Commentary
Conrad places many important aspects throughout the novel,
Heart of Darkness
. He embeds a deeper meaning to nature behind all of the characters and literary devices he uses. They tie together all of the ideas, motifs, and themes that Conrad intended to portray throughout the entire novel.
Each of the characters contribute to the overall meaning of the story; they help portray how the Europeans wanted profit only for themselves. Kurtz portrayed how nature brings out humans true madness and Marlow contributed to the more sane part of the novel. He sympathized with Kurtz intended and allowed for her to feel better about their relationship. The natives created a viewpoint into what really happens when people take over lands for their own needs; they display the message that imperialism could take out the true aspect of nature and comes with dire consequences.
Conrad also wove in many literary devices to aid to the meaning. The many metaphors and drops of symbolism throughout the novel bring about a different way to analyze the novel. The allegories, antithesis, and characterization create connections to things that create a deeper meaning to the novel. The literary devices reveal the truth behind each of the characters, as it adds extra insight into them and makes them more developed. It also emphasizes the motifs that aid in the portrayal of the overall theme of the story. It Conrad places in idea that imperialism can destroy nature and is not always good; it can destroy the very important aspects that form the earth and make it the way it is. Every detail that Conrad places throughout the novel contribute to the overall meaning of the novel.
Heart of Darkness
Kristine Nguyen
Mr. Morris
English 2HP6
17 February 2016

Kurtz
“The wilderness had patted him on the head, and, behold, it was like a ball - an ivory ball[...]” (125)
- Kurtz was ivory obsessed. He felt as if ivory would keep him alived and it was a necessity. Kurtz was seen as a mad man due to his attachment to ivory, however, it was what kept him so successful within the business.
“He declared he would shoot me unless I gave him the ivory[...]” (136)
- Due to his obsession with ivory, he would threaten others. He found ivory to be more precious than the life of others.
“He informed me, lowering his voice, that it was Kurtz who had ordered the attack to be made on the steamer.” (145)
- Kurtz felt as if his position was threatened and he ordered the natives conduct the attack. Due to "savage" nature of the natives, the attact would not be considered random.
Kurtz's Intended
“She was in mourning. It was more than a year since his death, more than a year since the news came; she seemed as though she would remember and mourn forever.” (160)
-Kurtz's intended felt a deep love for Kurtz, despite him being away for so long and what others say about him. Her love for him extended past his death, even though he was not there for her a lot of the time. She is overly dedicated to him, which was why Marlow had to fake Kurtz lasts words.
The Natives
The Harlequin
The Russian, also known as the Harlequin, were one of the people that Marlow got acquainted with during his stay in Africa. He worships Mr. Kurtz, and that is shown through him saying that Mr. Kurtz had "enlarged [his] mind." (98) He even nursed Mr. Kurtz twice when he had fallen ill. Further on in the novel, he leaves Mr. Kurtz, saying that they did all they could to help him. When doing so, he tells Marlow that it was Mr. Kurtz who had ordered the ambush on Marlow's steamboat; he stated that Mr. Kurtz had the fear of being overthrown.
[...] "just as though I had got a heavenly mission to civilize you." (70)
-The natives had a very crucial role within this novel. They were the ones supplying the labor for the Company; they were also the ones that originally inhabited the lands that the Europeans took over. They were seen as the "uncivilized" peoples by the Europeans, however, they did not do anything to be considered "uncivilized." The way they lived their life abides with nature and they live in harmony with nature. They got worked by the Europeans and were treated like animals; no respect was given to them.
Literary Devices Part 3
“The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds, and the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed sombre under an overcast sky - seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness.” (164)
- This is symbolism as it is portraying how the river supposedly leads into a heart of darkness. It is depicting how something peaceful and calm can lead to a rough and troubling path. It is also a metaphor as it compares the ends of the earth to a heart of darkness. That illustrates how on earth, there is a darkness that lives within nature and can never be erased.
[...] “he cried out twice, a cry that was no more than a breath: ‘The horror! The horror!’” (154)
- Kurtz lived a good portion of his life in Africa, surrounded by nature. When he died, his last words resembled the viewpoint of how the world is from both perspectives, one based in Great Britain and the other in Africa. He could have been referring to the horror that is the industrialized world or how nature engulfed him and created a lurking evil inside of him.
Characters
Throughout the novel,
Heart of Darkness
, Conrad introduces many characters which add to the deeper meaning of the novel. Though there are many characters within this novel, only several have names; those who do have a greater significance to the story rather than those who do not. Majority of the characters are addressed by what their occupation is, while the natives have several different ways of being mentioned in the novel.
Exposition
The story beings with Marlow retelling his story to the men aboard the Nellie. He goes into detail on how he got a job to head into Africa for The Company. He lands the job since there is an opening due to the death of Fresleven, who died over a dispute on two black hens. As he travels into Africa and further up the Congo river, he discovers the faith of the natives living there by seeing them being forced into labor. He reaches the Central Station where he is greeted by the general manager; he then finds out from a rumor told to him from the general manager and the brick maker that Kurtz may be ill. As time passes, Marlow learns more and more about the mysterious Kurtz. Marlow then continues his journey up the Congo with the general manager and others. He soon reachs a hut with a pile of wood in front of it; on the wood is a note telling him to hurry and be cautious on the journey ahead.
Complication
Marlow goes past the pile of wood after collecting it and into a dense fog; as the fog clears, his steamboat is ambushed by soaring arrows, one of which kills the Helmsman. The ambush makes those on board, aside from Marlow, nervous about the journey ahead. Once they arrive at the Inner Station, they are met by the Harlequin, also known as the Russian trader. He reassures them that everything is okay and that he left the note. He then continues to discuss how Kurtz enlarged his mind and Marlow soon finds out that Kurtz is seen as a god in the eyes of the natives. Marlow also finds out that Kurtz goes on week long raids for ivory in nearby villages. He soon discovers severed heads on sticks outside of station, which in a way creep him out. Pilgrims then proceed to bring Kurtz out on a stretcher, as natives surround them; a little later they left when Kurtz said something to them.
Symbolism
Darkness
- Throughout the novel, darkness is shown in a variety of ways. It is seen as a foreshadowing of death and also as evil. Within nature lies a darkness that can overcome those who stay in nature for too long. It enters them and brings out the true madness and darkness that is kept at a calm by society.
Ivory
- Ivory is the prominent reason to Kurtz madness, and is what the Company wants possession of. It makes Europeans undermine the value of the earths resources, as they attempt to strip the earth of all it's ivory. Also, it makes them force the natives into labor. They value ivory more than life itself, as seen in the horrid conditions that the natives face and the poor treatment they get.
Climax
Marlow then finally gets the chance to see the mysterious Kurtz that he had heard about his entire journey. The manager then proceeds to bring Kurtz aboard the ship when Kurtz's native mistress appears on shore. She makes the grand gesture of throwing her hands up in the air, after giving a somber look, then leaves; that freaks the pilgrims out for a bit. The Russian then tells Marlow that Kurtz ordered for the ambush on Marlows ship, so that they could assume that Kurtz was dead and he would be able to carry on his plans. The Russian then leaves and later on in the night Kurtz dissapears into the woods on another one of his searches for ivory. Marlow manages to find him and bring him back to the station; the next morning, they set sail down the river again but Kurtz health is depleting quicker and quicker by the moment.
As Marlow steers the ship, he listens to Kurtz talking to him about; he also receives a bunch of letters and a picture of his fiance, all in a package of personal documents. As the steamer on the boat breaks down, they have to stop for repairs. Soon afterward, Kurtz begins to die and the last words he says, " The horror! The horror!" come out at about a whisper. Marlow then becomes extremely ill and barely survives his sickness. He returns to Europe and goes to see Kurtz intended, who has been mourning his death even a year after the news was announced. She talks to Marlow about all the achievements Kurtz had and leads Marlow to the conclusion that she is deeply in love with Kurtz, despite him not being with her. She asks him what Kurtz's last words were, and he cannot bring himself to tell her the truth. He lies instead and said that he said her name, leaving her to believe that he truly loved her.
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