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The Heart of Darkness
Terms in this set (62)
Compassion, values justice, obsessive, arrogant, weary, skeptical. Natural philospher, intelligent and eloquent. Intermediary between two extremes of Kurtz and Company. Ancient Mariner.
"And this also has been one of the dark places of the earth."
Marlow talks about how Europe was once a dark and primitive place, like the Africa the Europeans are so kindly trying to civilize now.
"strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of others"
Marlow on imperialism
"This conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion [...] than ourselves, is not a pretty thing"
Marlow on Imperialism
Marlow is compared to what deity?
Marlow takes on the role fo a ....to help other people reach enlightenment
before him, he had the pose of a Buddha preaching in European clothes and without a lotus-flower
Marlow sitting as Budha, beginning of story
Marlow ceased, and sat apart, indistinct and silent, in
the pose of a meditating Buddha.
Marlow sitting as Budha, end of story.
divorced from reality
Marlow sees women as ....
"It's queer how out of touch with truth women are,"
Marlow on women
naive and idealistic
Marlow wants women to stay...
ambitious, greedy, acts like a god, good voice. Star agent of the company, works in ivory country in deep interior of Africa.
Everything we know of Kurtz is second-hand.
The wilderness had patted him on the
head, and, behold, it was like a ball— an ivory ball; ... it had taken him,
loved him, embraced him, got into his veins, consumed his
flesh, and sealed his soul to its own by the inconceivable
ceremonies of some devilish initiation.
Kurtz being described, he is consumed by his work, by the jungle, and by greed.
was to know what he belonged to, how many powers of
darkness claimed him for their own.
Marlow on Kurtz
"The man presented himself as a voice"
Kurtz is mainly presented as a voice, a bodiless shape. Creates parallel with Marlow
"no more to us than a voice"
Marlow when he is telling his story on the Nellie.
Native Africans worship Kurtz as a god.
the meaning of Kurtz' name
The fact that Kurtz is 7 feet tall, but his name means short, and this creates a discrepancy that reflects the lie of his life and death is an example of ....
The horror! The horror!
Marlow interprets this for us, saying that these words are the moment Kurtz realizes exactly how depraved human nature is—that his inability to exert even a shred of self-control is the same darkness in every human heart.
Through ____, Conrad shows us that the true result of "progress" is madness and horror.
... is symbolic for the harsh world of imperialism and colonialism.
Pilgrims are caught in a trance by ......they can only think about this, they wander aimlessly around camp waiting for it.
In the Congo
For the men, including Marlow, it becomes increasingly difficult to discern the difference between two sides - eventually the conflict boils down to bad vs. worse, one evil vs. a lesser evil.
Kurtz v Pilgrims
Kurtz is very much more upfront about his savage and brutal nature. he is not afraid of recognizing his shared qualities with the natives. while the other white men would be reluctant to liken themselves to, what they refer to as "savages". Kurtz, on the other hand, almost assimilates himself - he participates in their rituals and dances (which are often described as insane by the pilgrims), raids other villages with the natives themselves, etc. His writings also expose the violent truth of imperialism - something that the pilgrims, in tandem with other white men, had tried so hard to cover up. They still are very concerned with maintaining the idea that their work is done purely for humanitarian reasons.
Civilization vs. savagery
thought of as completely separate concepts by the pilgrims, but Maslow feels connection to savage acts/rituals of natives.
These "pilgrims" are often seen "praying" the word ivory - they are praying to a false god, one who represents greed and wealth - the complete opposite of Christianity.
native language spoken by some of the groups is even described as...at one point in the story!
seems to represent the entirety of Europe - the consumers, the ones who enjoy the ivory and the trade brought by the imperialist men. They, like the women, are completely oblivious to the true nature of the acts of these men. They enjoy their white ivory their precious metals and goods - but remain (whether voluntarily or not) blind to the vicious and savage practices of these so-called "civilized men."
The African mistress,
is a form of liberation - she represents the savage and "wild" lifestyle found in the Congo. She is also symbolic for Kurtz "uncivilized" desires and behaviors.
darkness motif; closely associated with death, the color white, however, is often associated with goodness - with purity, kindness, heaven, etc. white represents light - and humans are not afraid of light. contrast creates paradox. city is shrouded in hazy mist of goodness and purity to disguise morbid + terrifying things inside.
"We penetrated deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness....At night sometimes the roll of drums behind the curtain of trees would run up the river ...Whether it meant war, peace, or prayer we could not tell...They howled and leaped, and spun, and made horrid faces; but what thrilled you was just the thought of their humanity—like yours—the thought of your remote kinship with this wild and passionate uproar. Ugly. Yes, it was ugly enough; but if you were man enough you would admit to yourself that there was in you just the faintest trace of a response to the terrible frankness of that noise, a dim suspicion of there being a meaning in it which you—you so remote from the night of first ages—could comprehend."
things are getting very hazy for Marlow - can't tell between war cries and peace cries. As things get blurry, literally, the lines/distinctions between black men and white men blur. Savages + white men become one.
darkness as a motif
Thus, darkness becomes a very ambivalent concept in the Heart of Darkness. While in some instances, it may explicitly represent good vs. bad, in other places throughout the story, darkness symbolizes blindness. It isn't inherently good or bad - we see that this blindness forfeits Europe and the rest of "civilization" from recognizing the brutal acts of the imperialist men, but it also allows Marlow to take on a more tolerant and accepting attitude towards native and black folk in general.
darkness/light motif; light represents goodness, but ivory brings about darkness, causes people to commit dark atrocious acts. in the heart of the dark jungle.
imperialists are "hollow" on the inside. They often treat natives in derogatory & violent manner, and refer to them as less than human. They disguise these atrocious acts under the guise of bringing "enlightenment" and "civilization". The truth is, the goal for many of these men is to exploit and capitalize on cheap labor and African resources such as ivory. less than human, men with no "entrails". Characterization is vague. referred to as titles.
"It echoed loudly within him because he was hollow at the core...."
"He originated nothing, he could keep the routine going—that's all...Perhaps there was nothing within him..."
Marlow basically says white colonialists/imperialists are ______ than primitive, underevolved black africans.
the blurring of racial lines and humanity lends to the story's idea of
"For me it crawled towards Kurtz—exclusively..."
"Now when I was a little chap I had a passion for maps. I would look for hours at South America, or Africa, or Australia, and lose myself in all the glories of exploration....But there was one yet—the biggest, the most blank, so to speak—that I had a hankering after."
thames river vs congo river
Parallel of setting ties again to whole notion that white men are just as bad as black men. description of colonization by romans parallels to current colonization. pedals idea that white men and black men are similar but black men are less refined/more primitive.
black men vs white men
The white imperialist men are often described as being void of any morality, they commit malicious acts making them savages. doesn't think of them as equally human, but rather euqally inhuman.
the ladies in the room spinning knitted black wool - they represent marlow's fate, imperialist world could only ever hold a terrible fate for those in it.
kurtz is presented as a character in a far-off land, no face, no distinct personality, everything is second-hand, he's great, no defining trait other than his name. we hear his voice.
marlow finally meets kurtz at the end, falls ill and almost dies.
the author likens marlow to a ....by separating him from company men AND kurtz.
good vs evil
Now, imagine that you're sailing up the Congo in a steamboat, and those daily moral struggles take on a whole new gravity. In Heart of Darkness, Marlow's desire to be good and do good becomes increasingly futile as he's plunged into a world where no absolute goodness exists and the best he can do is choose between a selection of nightmares. Eventually, we see that the characters become unable to distinguish between good and evil—or between the River Thames and the Congo, or between black and white—until finally we're left wondering if there's really any difference at all. Spooky.
In Heart of Darkness, he seems to be suggesting that there really isn't so much difference between black and white—except that this vision of racial harmony becomes more complicated when you consider that he seems to be suggesting that black people are just less evolved versions of white people. Maybe. We're like 50% sure on that one. As with most issues in Heart of Darkness, the differences between black and white are so confusing as to be almost meaningless. And, in fact, maybe that's just Conrad's point.
Although he starts off with a pretty clear sense of who he is (white, successful, explorer), the jungle and the wilderness pretty quickly get him all mixed up. Is black white? Is civilization actually wild? Is Kurtz really that different from Marlow? And who is the manager, anyway? And are we really all just hollow inside? Heart of Darkness isn't about to say.
he is honest
why does marlow side with kurtz?
kurtz admits that he takes the ivory by
violence and intimidation
kurtz admits to ruling with...
threatens to expose the evil of Europe
Kurtz honesty leads to his downfall because it...
piece of machinery
the helmsman is referred to as a ....
piece of statuary
the mistress is referred to as...
Africa is responsible for
....is thus linked not only to absolute power and a kind of moral genius but to man's fundamental fallibility
openly malevolent, rul-defying.
"sunlight can be made to lie, too"
light v darkness
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