Heart of Darkness The Setting Frame setting Outside
- Slides: 77
Heart of Darkness
The Setting • Frame setting • Outside framework: – Narrator on yacht – Others on board are lawyer, accountant, director of companies, and Marlow – They are waiting for the tide to turn – On Thames in England – Marlow will be the one telling the story
• Inside framework – Marlow talks of his steamboat traveling up the Congo – Late 1800 s – Introduces us to characters he meets – Provides details about what was going on at that time in the Congo – Sets it up for us to judge
History • Belgium Congo – King Leopold II responsible for claiming it – Berlin Conference decided the territory was Leopold”s only, personally – He was a man of “notoriously immoral life” – Exploit it for ivory – More important was rubber – Violent actions, lots of abuses – Natives are not stupid; they just do not have the same experiences
• “Spoke of bringing civilization to the Africans of the Congo. Bound men to fight in their army. Then they went from village to village taking the women hostage and forcing the men to go deep into the jungle to tap the indigenous rubber trees. Those who resisted were mowed down with machine-gun fire. Many were beheaded or had their hands cut off. One officer said, ‘My goal is ultimately humanitarian. I killed a hundred people but that allowed five hundred others to live. ’” Jezer, Marty. ”A Brief History of Colonialism in Congo. ” Brattleboro(VT) Reformer.
Congo • 1885 Leopold II took control of the area and named it the Congo Free State • 1908 Belgian government took control of the Congo Free State and named it the Belgian Congo • 1960 country gains independence named Congo • 1971 country changed to Zaire • 1997 Democratic Republic of the Congo
Joseph Conrad 1857 -1924 • Born in Poland; lived there, Russia, and Austria. • Mother died 1865, father 1869; uncle raised him after that; from there exposed to sea • 1874 French marine service • 1878 went to England worked as seaman for English ships • 1890 traveled to Congo
Bits of Advice • Follow the quotation marks. When Marlow speaks, you will find “ …” If he is quoting someone, “ ‘…’” • Dense reading, very little dialogue, sophisticated vocabulary • Once Marlow reaches Africa in his story, the pace picks up
What we will be doing… 1. In pre-selected groups 2. Discussion leader daily- responsible for leading group, going through questions, being prepared. 3. All students answer questions in packet, separate sheet or on back, hand-written; will be turned in at the end. 4. Quizzed daily after discussion. Quizzed in groups. Group grade, unless want to branch off on own.
Part I, pages 65 -77 • Imagery Light vs. Darkness • Light = civilization and its ideals, enlightenment, consciousness, self-knowledge • Dark = wilderness, ignorance, evil • HOWEVER: those who colonize are not always the light • Contrast the narrator’s perception with Marlow’s • The bringer of light also a bringer of darkness
• The duality of man and his enterprises • “And this also has been one of the dark places of the earth” • His trip = “Worker”, “an emissary of light, something like a lower sort of apostle […] ‘weaning those ignorant millions from their horrid ways. ’ […] I ventured to hint that the Company was run for profit” (76).
Marlow • Gets command of a steamer on Congo through help of aunt who knows person in continental company • Replaces Dane, Fresleven, killed village chief over two hens • “Oh, it didn’t surprise me in the least to hear this, and at the same time to be told that Fresleven was the gentlest, quietest creature that ever walked on two legs […] he had been a couple of years already out there engaged in the noble cause […] and probably felt the need at last of asserting his self-respect in some way” (72). • “Cause of progress” “Glorious affair” “Glorious idea” “noble cause” SARCASM
The Aunt and Women • “Then-would you believe it? -I tried the women. I, Charlie Marlow, set the women to work” (71). • “It’s queer how out of touch with truth women are. They live in a world of their own, and there has never been anything like it, and never can be. It is too beautiful altogether, and if they were to set it up it would go to pieces before the first sunset” (76). • Comment about women
Brussels • “A whited sepulchre” “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also appear outwardly righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity. ” • How is Brussels hypocritical?
Company Office • Ominous tone • Women knitting with black wool. Allusion? Guarding the door of Darkness • “Ave! Morituri te salutant. ” “Hail Caesar; those about to die salute you. ” Gladiators’ salute on entering the arena of combat. • Colors on map- red=British territories (“real work is done there”), yellow=Belgian, purple=German • “Dead in the centre” river like a snake
Foreshadow • During interview, hazy, foggy sense of what occurred “I fancy”, “I believe”, “I began to feel slightly uneasy” (74). • Doctor – need only a pulse to go • “The changes take place inside you know” (75). Asks about history of madness. “Interesting to watch the mental changes of individuals, on the spot” (75).
• “’Avoid irritation more than exposure to the sun […] one must before everything keep calm. ’…He lifted a warning forefinger…’ Du calme, du calme. Adieu’”(76). ‘Keep calm, calm. Goodbye. ’ • Setting off for the centre of the earth – has symbolic meaning
Theme • Work, efficiency, and belief. Their purposes. • “What saves us is efficiency-the devotion to efficiency” (69). • Looking into the truth of what colonists say they are doing and what they really are doing. “What redeems it is the idea only”(69).
I, pages 77 -87 • Travels along African coast – “an enigma” – “air of whispering ‘come and find out’” – Black, creeping mist, sun fierce – “God-forsaken wilderness” – “the uniform sombreness of the coast seemed to keep me away from the truth of things” – “as if Nature herself had tried to ward off intruders”
• Surf – natural, had its reason and meaning • Natives – “They wanted no excuse for being there” VS • Soldiers taking care of clerks “presumably” • 30 days of travel • “For a time I would feel I belonged still to a world of straightforward facts”
• Shelling the bush • “There was a touch of insanity in the proceeding” • Natives – called enemies, criminals and savages BUT “these men could by no stretch of imagination be called enemies” • “It was like a weary pilgrimage amongst hints for nightmares” • Swede hangs himself “The sun too much for him, or the country perhaps” • “Stepped into the gloomy circle of some Inferno” (81)
Waste vs Efficiency • Exterior (coast) vs interior • Waste of excavations, inhabited devastation • Natives become “inefficient” • What he sees that is waste? • What is supposed to be “work”? – Dynamite, no change appears – “The philanthropic desire of giving the criminals something to do” (81) juxtaposition
• “The work was going on. The work! And this was the place where some of the helpers had withdrawn to die” (82) • “After all, I also was a part of the great cause of these high and just proceedings” (81)
Natives and Trade • White worsted- “Was there any idea at all connected with it […] this bit of white thread from beyond the seas” (82) • Are we supposed to see the cloth or the man? • “a stream of manufactured goods, rubbishy cottons, beads, and brass-wire set into the depths of darkness, and in return came a precious trickle of ivory” (84 -85)
Chief Accountant • “miracle”- dressed in white; a “vision” “Amazing”lights attire despite the surrounding darkness • “in the great demoralization of the land he kept up appearance. That’s backbone” (83) • Three years • WORK! Tending to his books; hates savages as distraction from work • Tells Marlow “you never know who may get hold of your letter-at that Central Station” (85)
Kurtz • Hints of him • “He is a very remarkable person” • In charge of a trading-post, a very important one, at ‘the very bottom of there’ • “He will be a somebody in the Administration before long”
Travel to Central Station • 15 days, 200 miles • Drums- “Perhaps on some quiet night the tremor of far-off drums, sinking, swelling, a tremor vast, faint; a sound weird, appealing, suggestive, and wild-and perhaps with as profound a meaning as the sound of bells in a Christian country” (85 -86) • Road upkeep • “I felt I was becoming scientifically interesting” (86) • “Flabby devil running the show. White men’appear like ghosts (hollow)
I, pages 87 -89
Allusions • “papier-mache Mephistopheles” Mephistopheles in the Faust legend is Lucifer; papier-mache is cheap, deceptive, and lacks strength. • “Steal a horse while another must not look at a halter” – meaning that some people are privileged and may commit crimes with impunity, while others are unjustly punished for trivial or imaginary misdemeanors • “bricks without…straw maybe” – Exodus 5: 7 ‘Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick, as heretofore: let them go and gather straw for themselves” • Eldorado Expedition – imaginary region in interior of S. Am. supposed to surpass all others in its richness of its productions, esp. gold; any region or source of great abundance
Marlow • “I was getting savage” (89) • “my body was full of chills” (92)
Manager • Cold, inspires uneasiness, stealthy • Good health is power • “Perhaps there was nothing within him” (88) • ‘Men who come out here should have no entrails’ (88) • “for out there were no external checks” (88)
Wilderness • “the silent wilderness surrounding this cleared speck on the earth struck me as something great and invincible, like evil or truth, waiting patiently for the passing away of this fantastic vision” (89) • After fire and beating – “he arose and went outand the wilderness without a sound took him into its bosom again” (90) • “the silence of the land went home to one’s very heart – its mystery, its greatness, the amazing reality of its concealed life” (93)
• “What was in there? ” (94) • “a rolling wave of plants […] to sweep every little man of us out of his little existence” (98) • “Could we handle that dumb thing, or would it handle us? ” (94) • “no one here bears a charmed life” (96)
Further Evidence of Inefficiency • The “avenging fire” (90) – hole in bottom of bucket • Brickmaker – does not have materials to make bricks • Lack of rivets for repairing boat • What does this inefficiency allow?
Work! • “I went to work the next day, turning, so to speak, my back on the station. In that way only it seemed to me I could keep my hold on the redeeming facts of life” (89) • Pretence of work (91) • “What I really wanted was rivets, by heaven! Rivets. To get on with the work” (95) • “There was not an atom of foresight or of serious intention in the whole batch of them, and they did not seem aware these things are wanted for the work of the world” (99)
• “but I like what is in the work – the chance to find yourself. Your own reality – for yourself, not for others – what no other man can ever know. They can only see the mere show, and never can tell what it really means” (97) • “No, it is impossible; it is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one’s existence” (95) • “We live, as we dream – alone…” (95)
Kurtz • “He is a prodigy”; “He is an emissary of pity and science and progress” “universal genius” • “new gang of virtue” • He is ill • Painting – “representing a woman, draped and blindfolded, carrying a lighted torch. The background was sombre – almost black. The movement of the woman was stately, and the effect of the torchlight on the face and sinister” (92)
• “I was curious to see whether this man, who had come out equipped with moral ideas of some sort, would climb to the top after all and how he would set about his work when there” (99) • “faithless pilgrims” “bewitched pilgrims” • Praying to ivory • “unreal […] as the philanthropic pretence of the whole concern” (91)
Lies • “I hate, detest lies, and can’t bear a lie […] There is a taint of death, a flavour of mortality in lies – which is exactly what I hate and detest in the world – what I want to forget. It makes me miserable and sick, like biting something rotten would do” (94)
II, pages 99 -109
Style • Why the slow pace?
Overheard Conversation • What is the contrast between the manager/uncle and Kurtz? • “’Anything – anything can be done in this country’” (101) “Trust to this” (102) • What do learn about Kurtz from the manager? • Kurtz “turning his back” on the headquarters, relief, home • Marlow suggest “Perhaps he was just simply a fine fellow who stuck to his work for its own sake” (101)
The Journey • On board- Marlow, manager, pilgrims, and cannibals • Mentions cannibals and restraint – “They were men one could work with” (103) and hippo meat
Going Back in Time • “Going up that river was like travelling back to the earliest beginnings of the world” (102) • “You thought yourself bewitched and cut off for ever from everything you had known once – somewhere – far away - in another existence perhaps (103) • “We were travelling in the night of first ages, of those ages that are gone” (105)
• “Well, you know, that was the worst of it – this suspicion of their not being inhuman […] 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 – you so remote from the night of first ages – could comprehend. And why not? The mind of man is capable of anything – because everything is in it, all the past as well as all the future” (105 -106) • Potential problem for colonists
Sensations • “There was no joy in the brilliance of the sunshine” (102) Double meaning? • “You lost your way on that river” (103) • “It was this stillness of an implacable force brooding over an inscrutable intention” (103) • “The inner truth is hidden” (103) • Feeling small • “No man was safe from trouble in this world” (108)
• “We penetrated deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness. It was very quiet there” (105) Why?
Major Theme • “He must meet that truth with his own true stuff – with his own inborn strength […] you want a deliberate belief” (106) • What is a deliberate belief? • What is its purpose? • The book that Marlow finds and its significance – “There was a singleness of intention, and honest concern for the right way of going to work” […] made me forget the jungle and the pilgrims in a delicious sensation of having come upon something unmistakably real” (108)
Part II, 109 -119
Marlow • “I had a little fever […] I had often ‘a little fever’ the playful paw-strokes of the wilderness, the preliminary trifling before the more serious onslaught which came in due course” • Foreshadowing • Efficiency in navigation
Atmosphere • “The rest of the world was nowhere” (110) • White fog, deaf, blind • Cry – “of infinite desolation” “tumultuous and mournful uproar” (110) “the glimpse of the steamboat had for some reason filled those savages with unrestrained grief” (114) “it was undertaken under the stress of desperation, and in its essence was purely protective” (115)
• “approach cautiously” Why? • “The approach to this Kurtz grubbing for ivory in the wretched bush was beset by as many dangers as though he had been an enchanted princess sleeping in a fabulous castle” • ‘And by the way, I suppose Mr. Kurtz is dead as well by this time”
Natives vs Whites Contrast • “curious to see the contrast of expressions of the white men and of the black fellows” • “whites, of course greatly discomposed” • “The others had an alert, naturally interested expression” ‘Catch ‘im” • “we at the end of countless ages […] They still belonged to the beginnings of time” • No guns necessary; only whistle needed
Restraint • Whites take constant advantage “I must say it was paid with a regularity worthy of a large and honourable trading company” • Natives – “they didn’t go for us” “Restraint!” No fear can stand up to hunger” “It takes a man all his inborn strength to fight hunger properly” “these chaps had no earthly reason for any kind of scruple” (113) • Helmsman who opened the shutter to fire gun • White men are the cannibals
• “The pilgrims had opened with their Winchesters, and were simply squirting lead into that bush” (117) • Marlow’s callousness with the dead man
Part II, pages 119 -128
Kurtz- a voice • “The man presented himself as a voice” • “…that of all his gifts the one that stood out preeminently […] was his ability to talk, his words” • Foreshadow “He was very little more than a voice” • Harlequin – “You don’t talk with that man – you listen to him”; “this man has enlarged my mind”
Kurtz in the darkness • “an ivory ball; it had caressed him, and – lo!- he had withered; 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. He was its spoiled and pampered favourite. ” • Page 121 -122 “The thing was to know what he belonged to, how many powers of darkness claimed him for their own”
• “He had taken a high seat amongst the devils of the land, I mean literally” • “nerves, went wrong, and caused him to preside at certain midnight dances ending with unspeakable rites, which – as far as I reluctantly gathered from what I heard at various times – were offered up to him”
Marlow and Kurtz • Marlow is going to be a friend to Kurtz • Marlow tells a lie about Kurtz in the future • Marlow comments on Kurtz’s Intended (fiance) laying “ghost of his gifts at last with a lie”; women and their beautiful world • International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs – pamphlet “we approach them with the might as of a deity […] By the simple exercise of our will we can exert a power for good practically unbounded” “Exterminate all the brutes!” – the exposition of a method, scrawled much later • Character contrast 119 -120
External Checks • What can happen in solitude? • No policeman, no voice of neighbor, no butcher (122) “When they are gone you must fall back upon your own innate strength, upon your own capacity for faithfulness” • “breathe dead hippo meat, so to speak, and not be contaminated”
Helmsman • “like a claim of distant kinship affirmed in a supreme moment” (124) • “He had done something” (124).
Harlequin • Out there two years, going alone, cut off from everybody and everything; “So many accidents happen to a man going about alone” “make up for lots of silence” • Smiles and frowns, sunshine and shadow, pathes of all colors (like the map) • What can happen to person when alone? • The purpose of the book? It is a voice!
Part III, 128 -142
Harlequin • “He surely wanted nothing from the wilderness but space to breathe in and to push on through. His need was to exist” (129) • Devotion to Kurtz – “He had not meditated over it. It came to him, and he accepted it with a sort of eager fatalism. I must say that to me it appeared about the most dangerous thing in every way he had come upon so far” • He leaves with his books and cartridges = survival
Kurtz in the Darkness • “he raided the country” lots of cartridges • “got tribe to follow him” “They adored him” • He came with “thunder and lightning” = guns • “there was nothing on earth to prevent him killing whom he jolly well pleased” • “he hated all this, and somehow he couldn’t get away”
The Round Knobs • “not ornamental but symbolic” of what? • “They would have been even more impressive, those heads on the stakes, if their faces had not been turned to the house” (132) • “They only showed that Mr. Kurtz lacked restraint” • “It echoed loudly within him because he was hollow at the core” (133) • “rebels”
Light vs Dark • “I seemed at one bound to have been transported into some lightless region of subtle horrors, where pure, uncomplicated savagery was a positive relief, being something that had a right to exist – obviously – in the sunshine”(133 -134) • “All this was in the gloom, while we down there were yet in the sunshine” (134)
Native Woman • What does she represent? • “She must have had the value of several elephant tusks upon her. She was savage and superb, wild-eyed and magnificent; there was something ominous and stately […] as though it had been looking at the image of its own tenebrous and passionate soul”
• “Ah! But it was something to have at least a choice of nightmares” (138) • “I should be loyal to the nightmare of my choice” (141) • “I was anxious to deal with this shadow by myself alone – and to this day I don’t know why I was so jealous of sharing with any one the peculiar blackness of that experience” (141)
Kurtz • Why do the words “You will be utterly lost” work on Kurtz? • “I tried to break the spell…of the wilderness – that seemed to draw him to its pitiless breast by the awakening of forgotten and brutal instincts, by the memory of gratified and monstrous patterns…This had driven him out to the edge of the forest, to the bush…” (143) • Looked into himself, struggles • ‘You show them you have in you something that is really profitable, and then there will be no limits to the recognition of your ability” (146) • Like a man lying at “the bottom of a precipice” (147)
“The horror!” • “had pronounced a judgment upon the adventures of his soul on the earth” (148) “A moral victory” (149) • “The most you can hope from it is some knowledge of yourself” (148) • “He had something to say” (148) • “Was wide enough to embrace the whole universe” (149) • What does that mean? • What does that reveal about Kurtz? • What does this allow Marlow to do? • How does this make Kurtz better than the manager and pilgrims? • What about Marlow removing “Exterminate all the brutes”?
Brussels, Belgium • “They were intruders whose knowledge of life was to me an irritating pretence, because I felt so sure they could not possibly know the things I knew” (149) • They have “the assurance of perfect safety” (150) • Various people he encounters and what they reveal about Kurtz
The Intended and the Lie • What does “the Intended” mean here? Why is it an appropriate name? • What about her appearance? Why does the darkness continue to deepen”? What allows her to keep the darkness away? • What about the way Marlow answers her comments and questions? Why? • What is the lie Marlow tells? Why? • Anger; “I could not tell her. It would have been too dark-too dark altogether…”
The final paragraph • The diction and tone
“Darkness isn’t simple savagery. Savages may be immersed in the darkness of ignorance (the darkness that enlightenment is supposed to combat), but not in the darkness of evil – Kurtz’s darkness. That wicked aspect of the darkness enters the picture only when somebody civilized plunges to savagery. It isn’t a disgrace to be uncivilized, unless you were civilized to begin with. ”