- Slides: 24
Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad
The Author Joseph Conrad Born in 1857 in Poland Both parents were dead by his 12 th birthday Spent youth as a merchant seaman 1898 and 1899 wrote Heart of Darkness This was after his journey into the Congo
Themes Is man a free agent or is he subject to forces beyond his control? According to Heart of Darkness, man cannot control his own destiny. Fate and the surrounding environment dominate and change a person. This is exemplified by the “darkening” of Marlow’s thoughts as he spends more time away from civilization. He considers killing Kurtz at one point and ends up despising “civilized” people by the end of the book. He is forever changed by his experiences.
Themes Every soul has its dark truth and its light truth.
Themes Life Inevitably finds out who you truly are by placing one in a situation which most severely tests values. Marlow is “placed” and “tested” by his journey in the Congo. He finds himself during the expedition and learns that he is not a truly “good” person. The environment causes Marlow to compromise his values.
Themes When society’s restraints are removed, and one is forced to rely upon one’s own emotional and spiritual resources, a person often proven to be “hollow at the core. ”
Themes The greatest sin that a man commit is inhumanity to man. The Africans were treated as a subservient race of people by the British. They were actually referred to as a subspecies of the white man. They were brutalized and forced into slavery for many years.
Themes Is there anything in which to believe? According to the story in Heart of Darkness, the only thing that can be believed is that people are capable of any atrocity. Their religious beliefs and basic “goodness” are just a by-product of society’s rules and laws that have conditioned them. When they are removed, as in Marlow’s case, so are any beliefs that one might have.
Put a man into isolation and his true nature will be revealed.
Symbols Grass covers up men’s mistakes and accomplishments and enhances the idea that no matter how great or good or evil a man’s deeds are they are transitory.
Symbols Ivory Symbolizes the sick and putrid reason that the white man has lost all trappings of civilization.
Symbols Kurtz’ Painting The painting of the blindfolded woman holding the torch out into the darkness could represent one of two things: • • • Kurtz’s intended and the truth about the darkness Or Europeans stumbling into Africa Or, in our interpretation, it could represent man’s blindness to himself
Symbols Jungle The jungle represents two things Truth and Reality The psyche and the twisted, torturous, and tangled route a man must take for selfenlightenment.
Symbols Pairings of twins Through juxtaposition and a process of misdirection, Conrad attempts to convey subtle meanings.
Symbols Whiteness In the map when Marlow was being “interviewed” by the company, the part he was going to was blank and white. He thought this meant it was full of something and secret. However, it was only filled with Darkness. White means the opposite, and Darkness may be the real, the pure part.
Symbol DARKNESS is present throughout the novel as a symbol of desolation and isolation. It is present in the beginning of the book in describing the estuary the boat sits in. Marlow tells his story in darkness. The lady in the painting holds a light in the darkness.
Literary Terms Diction The use of words in written or oral discourse Conrad uses Marlow as a means of both. Conrad writes as Marlow and makes the reader feel as if the story is being told instead of read.
Literary Terms Point of View Conrad is a master of using Marlow’s point of view as storyteller to lead the reader down the dark journey into his soul. Conrad uses the point of view to confuse the reader and to make one pay attention to the story. By using Marlow’s point of view, Conrad also shows the psychological changes that take place during the expedition.
Literary Terms Pathos. The quality in literature which stimulates pity, tenderness, or sorrow in the reader or viewer ; implies helpless and unmerited suffering. In Heart of Darkness, the treatment of the blacks by the British is discussed. They are used for slave labor and are fed little, and when they cannot work anymore they crawl off and die.
Literary Terms Motif A simple element which reoccurs In Heart of Darkness, there are several motifs. • The baseness (wicked, immoral, sordid, corrupt) of the English • How the English are the true “savages” • Constant travel • Darkness and Light • Searching
Literary Terms Primitivism The doctrine that primitive man, because he has remained closer to Nature and has been less subject to the corrupt influences of society, is nobler and more nearly perfect than civilized man
Literary Terms Personification Conrad often referred to the Jungle on either side of the river as a beast that breathed and waited.
Narrative Techniques Conrad uses Marlow as a master of indirection. Much is left out of the story on purpose so that the reader must decide for himself what has occurred. The timeline is also distorted by this misdirection. Future and past become intertwined, and the trip seems to take years instead of months.
Narrative Techniques Foreshadowing Perhaps the best example of this is when Marlow is examined by the Doctor, who alludes to the “changes in individuals” who have been out in the Congo. After Marlow visited his aunt he also had “a startled pause” at going on to Africa. He was very wary of this because, being a seaman, he left his temporary “land” home all the time.