Tag Archives: Heart of Darkness

Gender

In Their Eyes Were Watching God, men and women have very different roles. The role of women is defined by men. Women are left with stereotypical positions in society and marriage is important because women are defined by their relationship to men. Intelligence and authority are considered masculine qualities. If a woman were to display these characteristics, she would be considered too manly. Women are also treated as the lesser gender in As I Lay Dying. They are expected only to reproduce and care for the child. Cora believes that “A woman’s place is wither her husband and children…” Also important to note, female sexuality is not to be discussed. Again in Heart of Darkness, women are ignored. Marlow seems to believe that women exist separately from men. The men have a dark world and they must protect the women from it. Marlow works to protect The Intended’s idealism and her opinion of Kurtz. Finally, in Melanctha, we see a woman’s rebellion against the expected. She does not desire to be a mother or housewife. She wants to be an individual, which is not what is expected of women in these works. These authors address the problem of gender roles. In these works women are treated as the lesser gender and expected to perform defined roles. If they do not conform they are often shamed or considered too masculine.

Overhead to in Their Head

Heart of Darkness (1899) focused on imperialism and how it affects life in Africa through the perspective of Charles Marlow. In the story, most of the conflict was reflected externally and viewed through a narrator who had strong emotions towards the events but no lacked in focus on how it affected him, psychologically. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) marks a turn as even though everything is in third-person, the narration focuses on Stephen and both his internal and external conflicts as he grows up. This conflict even spills into the third-person narratives on many occasions. The progression that I have noticed is that the focus of the narrative started with a wider picture, where the narrator is not mentally attached to the story. Joyce’s novel marks a turn where character’s thoughts affect the delivery of the narration. This turn leads to novels like As I Lay Dying (1930) and Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937.) Both stories matter entirely because of the narrator. Faulkner’s novel is delivered with the focus on individual characters and how their thoughts directly affect their narrative. Hurston, on the other hand, still had a third-person perspective, for the most part, but the story was still Janie’s. Every emotion that she felt, whether conflicting or not, is there to be heard. As time progresses, the stories go from character driven to being the characters.

Dark

“It had become so pitch dark that we listeners could hardly see one another. For a long time already he, sitting apart, had been no more to us than a voice. There was not a word from anybody. The others might have been asleep, but I was awake. I listened, I listened on the watch for the sentence, for the word, that would give me the clue to the faint uneasiness inspired by this narrative that seemed to shape itself without human lips in the heavy night-air of the river”.

 

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. In Youth: A Narrative; and Other Tales. Rev. ed. Edited by Cedric Watts. Oxford University Press, 2002. p.130.

 

I think this shows modernity from the darkness that he seems to portray during this paragraph. It is darker and creepier which makes me feel as though it is modern.

Commonplace #3

“I did not betray Mr Kurtz – it was ordered I should never betray him – it was written I should be loyal to the nightmare of my choice. 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” (172).

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. In Youth: A Narrative; and Other Tales. Rev. ed. Edited by Cedric Watts. Oxford University Press, 2002.

Kurtz’s impression on others is shown here. I think this ties to how the natives saw him as a kind of deity, how he is to never be betrayed.

Everyone’s Darkness

My first interview with the manager was curious. He did not ask me to sit down after my twenty-mile walk that morning. He was commonplace in complexion, in feature, in manners, and in voice. He was of middle size and of ordinary build. His eyes, of the usual blue, were perhaps remarkably cold, and he certainly could make his glance fall on one as trenchant and heavy as an axe. But even at these times the rest of his person seemed to disclaim the intention. Otherwise there was only an indefinable, faint expression of his lips, something stealthy – a smile – not a smile – I remember it, but I can’t explain.

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness and Other Tales. “Heart of Darkness”, 123. Oxford: Oxford NY, 2002.

Throughout Heart of Darkness, there is a sense of dread and hostility throughout Marlow’s interactions with the natives and the native landscape. However, this passage jumps away from the harsh conditions and describes the manager talking with Marlow. Even here we see the same harshness expressed within a man’s complexion, defining that the dangers and hostility projected does not stop with the people who live near the river but also by the people who have journeyed there. This could imply the overall idea of the novella that darkness comes not from the native land, but of the interactions between the natives and the colonizers.

Heart of Darkness

“But the wilderness had found him out early, and had taken on him a terrible vengeance for the fantastic invasion. I think it had whispered to him things about himself which he did not know, things he had no conception of till he took counsel with this great solitude – and the whisper had proved irresistibly fascinating. It echoed loudly within him because he was hollow at the core.”

Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness and Other Tales. Oxford University Press, New York, 2002, p164.

It’s interesting to see that Marlow’s thought is that wilderness could only have a negative effect on Kurtz’s mind. He also hints to the fact that Kurtz might not have possessed a great soul, even before encountering the wilderness and therefore that’s why it was possible for him to go mad.

The Experience of Death

“I have wrestled with death. It is the most unexciting contest you can imagine. It takes place in an impalpable grayness, with nothing underfoot, with nothing around, without spectators, without clamor, without glory, without the great desire of victory, without the great fear of defeat, in a sickly atmosphere of tepid skepticism, without much belief in your own right, and still less in that of your adversary” (Conrad 178).

Conrad, Joseph, and Cedric Watts. “The Heart of Darkness: Part III.” Heart of Darkness and Other Tales. Rev. ed. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2008. Print.

This passage stands as an example of why this story is a modern piece. There is perhaps no better way to explain the reality of death. Conrad explains death as it is in this passage and ultimately, that is nothing very spectacular. This is also an example of delayed specification of referents because he takes so long to tell you that death is not virtuous or exciting. He actually never says those words but that’s what he’s getting at, he just takes so long to explain death.

Kurtz as a “remarkable man”

“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 inextinguishable regrets.”

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness and Other Tales. “Heart of Darkness”, 178. Oxford: Oxford NY, 2002.

“This is the reason why I affirm that Kurtz was a remarkable man. He had something to say. He said it. Since I had peeped over the edge myself, I understand better the meaning of his stare, that could not see the flame of the candle, but was wide enough to embrace the whole universe, piercing enough to penetrate all the hearts that beat in the darkness. He had summed up – he had judged. ‘The horror!’ He was a remarkable man.”

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness and Other Tales. “Heart of Darkness”, 178-179. Oxford: Oxford NY, 2002.

Marlow proclaims Kurtz’s “remarkableness” because Kurtz was able to judge and generate some sort of certainty about his experience while Marlow felt as if he couldn’t say anything that would make sense or do justice to the unfathomable truth.

 

Delayed Specification on Kurtz

“I’ve seen the devil of violence, and the devil of greed, and the devil of hot desire; but, by all the stars! these were strong, lusty, red-eyed devils, that swayed and drove men – men, I tell you. But as I stood on the hillside, I foresaw that in the blinding sunshine of that land I would become acquainted with a flabby, pretending, weak-eyed devil of a rapacious and pitiless folly.”

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness and Other Tales. “Heart of Darkness” (Oxford: Oxford NY, 2002), 117.

All of the descriptions in this passage remind me of language that just goes and goes with seemingly no destination, at least not one that’s obvious from the start – in other words, it is similar to language we’ve already been looking at in class. You don’t quite understand what the point is, where exactly it’s going, or what the purpose of it will be, until you read on and discover that it applies to Kurtz. It is a perfect example of delayed specification.

Heart of Darkness…Part 3 Conrad

“The brown current ran swiftly out of the heart of darkness, bearing us down towards the sea with twice the speed of our upward progress; and Kurtz’s life was running swiftly too, ebbing, ebbing out his heart into the sea of inexorable time….I saw the time approaching when I would be left alone of the party of ‘unsounded method'” (52).

Conrad, James. Heart of Darkness. The Project of Gutenberg Ebook.  9. Jan. 2006. http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/526/pg526.html

This scene gives the readers the image of the river and how the heart of darkness enters through. Marlowe and Kurtz are able to get away from the darkness that has permanently marked them. Kurtz has been driven into this madness by this darkness and Marlowe is scarred by being apart of Kurtz’s party. The brown current brings them back into the right civilization-the civilization they knew and grew up with. The river separates Marlowe from the African civilization since it’s inside the heart of the land where the darkness resides and unsounded.