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Heart of Darkness: Four Major Themes

AP English IV Presentation on Four Major Themes of the Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Alana Lee

on 6 February 2013

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Transcript of Heart of Darkness: Four Major Themes

Heart of Darkness: By Joseph Condrad Plot Themes Good vs. Evil Fear Imperialism Fate vs. Free Will By Alana,Iris, Kiarra, (Marlow): "Light came out of this river (the Thames) since – you say Knights? Yes; but it is like a running blaze on a plain, like a flash of lightning in the clouds. We live in the flicker – may it last as long as the old earth keeps rolling! But darkness was here yesterday." "No; I can't forget him [Kurtz], though I am not prepared to affirm the fellow was exactly worth the life we lost in getting to him. I missed my late helmsman awfully - I missed him even while his body was still lying in the pilot-house…It was a kind of partnership. He steered for me - I had to look after him, I worried about his deficiencies, and thus a subtle bond had been created, of which I only became aware when it was suddenly broken. And the intimate profundity of that look he gave me when he received his hurt remains to this day in my memory - like a claim of distant kinship affirmed in a supreme moment." "I felt an intolerable weight oppressing my breast, the smell of the damp earth, the unseen presence of victorious corruption, and the darkness of an impenetrable night…" "'Will they attack?' whispered an awed voice. 'We will be all butchered in this fog,' murmured another. The faces twitched with the strain, the hands trembled slightly, the eyes forgot to wink." "In the street – I don't know why – a queer feeling came to me that I was an imposter. Odd thing that I, who used to clear out for any part of the world at twenty-four hours' notice, with less thought than most men give to the crossing of a street, had a moment – I won't say of hesitation, but of startled pause, before this commonplace affair. The best way I can explain it to you is by saying that, for a second or two, I felt as though, instead of going to the centre of a continent, I were about to set off for the centre of the earth." "The fact is I was completely unnerved by a sheer blank fright, pure abstract terror, unconnected with any distinct shape of physical danger. What made this emotion so overpowering was – how shall I define it? – the moral shock I received, as if something altogether monstrous, intolerable to thought and odious to the soul, had been thrust upon me unexpectedly. This lasted of course the merest fraction of a second, and then the usual sense of commonplace, deadly danger, the possibility of a sudden onslaught and massacre, or something of the kind, which I saw impending, was positively welcome and composing. It pacified me, in fact, so much that I did not raise an alarm." "I couldn't have felt more of lonely desolation somehow, had I been robbed of a belief or had missed my destiny in life […]." "I remained to dream the nightmare out to the end, and to show my loyalty to Kurtz once more. Destiny. My destiny! Droll thing life is – that mysterious arrangement of merciless logic for a futile purpose. The most you can hope from it is some knowledge of yourself – that comes too late – a crop of unextinguishable regrets." About the Theme About the Quotes About the Theme About the Quotes About the Theme About the Quotes About the Theme About the Quotes "At last we opened a reach. A rocky cliff appeared, mounds of turned-up earth by the shore, houses on a hill, others with iron roofs, amongst a waste of excavations, or hanging to the declivity. A continuous noise of the rapids above hovered over this scene of inhabited devastation. A lot of people, mostly black and naked, moved about like ants. A jetty projected into the river. A blinding sunlight drowned all this at times in a sudden recrudescence of glare. 'There's your Company's station,' said the Swede, pointing to three wooden barrack-like structures on the rocky slope." "It was a moment of triumph for the wilderness, an invading and vengeful rush which, it seemed to me, I would have to keep back alone for the salvation of another soul." Marlow ventures into the heart of darkness to enlighten the natives and gather precious ivory. However, he realizes the true evil of imperialism. Marlow describes his growing fear of trying to control the unknown, for imperialism is a hit and miss mission. Marlow ends up wavering between the ill intentions, imperialistic ideals, and his own moral judgment on how missions are actually conducted. Marlow begins to witness the true nature of the evil in the situation he's in. All the quotes reference this darkness of imperialism and what happens to those who are affected by it. Every encounter Marlow partakes in holds an aspect of fear, whether its known or subconscious. Fear would usually discourage one from venturing further, however, Marlow found this as his drive for curiosity. Marlow initially felt that his purpose was to meet Kurtz, originally thinking he was a person of good like himself. The quotes reveal that Marlow is disappointed when Kurtz shows his true nature, despite all the claims people have made about him during Marlow's journey to the Heart of Darkness. Fear is self explanatory; its responsible for nearly driving Marlow to the point of insanity, Westerners to the bliss of ignorance, and Kurtz to his death.
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