Heart of Darkness

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Question: Question #1

Date: 1997, Sep 26
From: <Anonymous>

Marlowe meets his Aunt before he starts his trip. What is her view of his journey?

Bubbling with naive pride

Re: Question: Question #1
Date: 1999, Feb 22
From: Erica <schillin@artcenter.edu>

Marlowe's aunt was a staunch supporter of his journey. She had apparently reported his greatness all around. I imagine her, sitting at home in her comfortable life with not much to excite her. The thought of adventure, &c, &c. She was bubbling with naive pride.

Question: Question #2

Date: 1997, Sep 26
From: <Anonymous>

When Marlowe arrives at the Company Station, he finds blasting going on. What does it mean? What does he encounter in the Ravine?

Wanton Smash-up

Re: Question: Question #2
Date: 1999, Feb 20
From: Robert Hanson <bobdubob@aol.com>

The blasting should have been related to the construction of a railroad. Not only was the blasting not needed 'the cliff was not in the way or anything' but it was the only work being done. This image relates to how the colonizers force the native people to destroy their own resources. It's a violent symbol for the intent of the colonizers also- how they make the natives do their (ultimately pointless) dirty work.

When Marlowe encounters the ravine, he finds it to be a dumping ground for drainage pipes. The pipes--obviously a valuable and useful item--have been broken in someone's carlessness in moving them. This image tells us about the failure of the europeans to make their technology work in this undeveloped land. Perhaps it tells us about the wrong-headed approach of the Company as well. Do their efforts constitute a managable plan for trading or is it a short term orgy of theft (of natural resources)? Clearly the Company is engaged in a mad scramble that does not allow for the correct use of technology and therefore will not offer any of the benefits of that technology to the native people.

Answer to #2

Re: Question: Question #2
Date: 1999, Feb 21
From: Garin Armenian <garina@ix.netcom.com>

Marlowe encounters an "objectless blasting" of a cliff for the building of a railroad.
Upon stumbling into the ravine, Marlowe sees there the "drainage-pipes for the settlement had been tumbled there."

Waste

Re: Question: Question #2
Date: 1999, Feb 22
From: Mary Louise <mlstoughton@earthlink.net>

I think Robert is on the right track I just want to add a similar thought. At the Company Station and in the broken pipe-filled Ravine, Conrad shows us the waste of civilized society against the background of the simpler savage existence. The infrastructure, railways and water systems, necessary to the civilized world are superfluous the the life of the savage, life of the soul. They appear useless and wasteful at the Company Station because, to the soul, they are.

Ignorance

Re: Question: Question #2
Date: 1999, Feb 22
From: Jake Sullivan

Marlowe compares the blasting to the sound of the battle ship he show earlier in his journey that was bombing the coastline without any apartent target or goal. The blasting is being done to clear a path for a railroad, but much of it seems unneccessary. When he stumbles upon the ravine, it becomes clear that the mission he has embarked on is being conducted by individuals who have no respect for the land and rape it as they please.

Question: Question #3

Date: 1997, Sep 26
From: <Anonymous>

What is the symbolic significance of the Company's Chief Accountant?

All quotes, no original thought

Re: Question: Question #3
Date: 1999, Feb 20
From: Trager

The Norton Anthology of English Literature (Sixth Edition, Volume 2) refers to the manager as someone, “who sees Africa, its people, and its resources solely as instruments of financial gain... “a ‘hollow man’... his only objections to Kurtz are commercial, not moral; Kurtz’s methods are ‘unsound’ and would therefore lose the company money.”

T.S.Eliot
The Hollow Men

İİİİİİİİİİİİİİİA penny for the Old Guy

İİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİI

İİİİİİİİİİWe are the hollow men
İİİİİİİİİİWe are the stuffed men
İİİİİİİİİİLeaning together
İİİİİİİİİİHeadpiece filled with straw. Alas!
İİİİİİİİİİOur dried voices, when
İİİİİİİİİİWe whisper together
İİİİİİİİİİAre quiet and meaningless
İİİİİİİİİİAs wind in dry grass
İİİİİİİİİİOr rats' feet over broken glass
İİİİİİİİİİIn our dry cellar

İİİİİİİİİİİİİShape without form, shade without colour,
İİİİİİİİİİParalysed force, gesture without motion;

İİİİİİİİİİİİİThose who have crossed
İİİİİİİİİİWith direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom
İİİİİİİİİİRemember us--if at all--not as lost
İİİİİİİİİİViolent souls, but only
İİİİİİİİİİAs the hollow men
İİİİİİİİİİThe stuffed men.

İİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİII

İİİİİİİİİİEyes I dare not meet in dreams
İİİİİİİİİİIn death's dream kingdom
İİİİİİİİİİThese do not appear:
İİİİİİİİİİThere, the eyes are
İİİİİİİİİİSunlight on a broken column
İİİİİİİİİİThere, is a tree swinging
İİİİİİİİİİAnd voices are
İİİİİİİİİİIn the wind's singing
İİİİİİİİİİMore distant and more solemn
İİİİİİİİİİThan a fading star.

İİİİİİİİİİİİİLet me be no nearer
İİİİİİİİİİIn death's dream kingdom
İİİİİİİİİİLet me also wear
İİİİİİİİİİSuch deliberate disguises
İİİİİİİİİİRat's coat, crowskin, crossed staves
İİİİİİİİİİIn a field
İİİİİİİİİİBehaving as the wind behaves
İİİİİİİİİİNo nearer--

İİİİİİİİİİİİİNot that final meeting
İİİİİİİİİİIn the twilight kingdom

İİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİIII

İİİİİİİİİİThis is the dead land
İİİİİİİİİİThis is cactus land
İİİİİİİİİİHere the stone images
İİİİİİİİİİAre raised, here they receive
İİİİİİİİİİThe supplication of a dead man's hand
İİİİİİİİİİUnder the twinkle of a fading star.
İİİİİİİİİİİİİIs it like this
İİİİİİİİİİIn death's other kingdom
İİİİİİİİİİWaking alone
İİİİİİİİİİAt the hour when we are
İİİİİİİİİİTrembling with tenderness
İİİİİİİİİİLips that would kiss
İİİİİİİİİİForm prayers to broken stone.


İİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİIV

İİİİİİİİİİThe eyes are not here
İİİİİİİİİİThere are no eyes here
İİİİİİİİİİIn this valley of dying stars
İİİİİİİİİİIn this hollow valley
İİİİİİİİİİThis broken jaw of our lost kingdoms

İİİİİİİİİİİİİIn this last of meeting places
İİİİİİİİİİWe grope together
İİİİİİİİİİAnd avoid speech
İİİİİİİİİİGathered on this beach of the tumid river

İİİİİİİİİİİİİSightless, unless
İİİİİİİİİİThe eyes reappear
İİİİİİİİİİAs the perpetual star
İİİİİİİİİİMultifoliate rose
İİİİİİİİİİOf death's twilight kingdom
İİİİİİİİİİThe hope only
İİİİİİİİİİOf empty men.


İİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİV

İİİİİİİİİİHere we go round the prickly pear
İİİİİİİİİİPrickly pear prickly pear
İİİİİİİİİİHere we go round the prickly pear
İİİİİİİİİİAt five o'clock in the morning.

İİİİİİİİİİİİİBetween the idea
İİİİİİİİİİAnd the reality
İİİİİİİİİİBetween the motion
İİİİİİİİİİAnd the act
İİİİİİİİİİFalls the Shadow
İİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİFor Thine is the Kingdom

İİİİİİİİİİİİİBetween the conception
İİİİİİİİİİAnd the creation
İİİİİİİİİİBetween the emotion
İİİİİİİİİİAnd the response
İİİİİİİİİİFalls the Shadow
İİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİLife is very long

İİİİİİİİİİİİİBetween the desire
İİİİİİİİİİAnd the spasm
İİİİİİİİİİBetween the potency
İİİİİİİİİİAnd the existence
İİİİİİİİİİBetween the essence
İİİİİİİİİİAnd the descent
İİİİİİİİİİFalls the Shadow
İİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİİFor Thine is the Kingdom

İİİİİİİİİİİİİFor Thine is
İİİİİİİİİİLife is
İİİİİİİİİİFor Thine is the

İİİİİİİİİİİİİThis is the way the world ends
İİİİİİİİİİThis is the way the world ends
İİİİİİİİİİThis is the way the world ends
İİİİİİİİİİNot with a bang but a whimper.

İ(Alright, so it took me a term and some dumb luck, but here it is JH.)

The MAN

Re: Question: Question #3
Date: 1999, Feb 20
From: Tony Garcia <garcia@artcenter.edu>

"I took him for sort of a vision," says Marlowe. Clearly Marlowe sees the accountant who I mentally constructed as the man dressed in white in that episode of the "Twighlight Zone" in which a ganster thinks he's in heaven, and that the man dressed in white is an angel, but in actuality he's the devil dressed in heavenly white and they're in HELL!! But that's just me. Marlowe continues, "I shook hands with this miracle" which suggests that the accountant can be a sort of saintly prophet which oversees the lambs of his industry and who claims the great deeds of a man who only communicates to him through correspondence (scripture)...a man named Kurtz.

But this interpretation of the Accountant is seen through the eyes of Marlowe. A man who walked through the workers that were "nothing earthly...but black shadows of disease and starvation." To me though, ultimataly the accountant is more of an oracle of Imperialism. The takeover and raping of this land for colonization and commerce is headed in sections by a group of men who will step on any one in order to establish their economic and racial policies to the group of indigenous people. The accountant is more of a lower rung man, but one who deals in profit and books and numbers. A man who goes out of the stench of his stuffy office to breath an air laced with the gunpowders of commercial authority. $$$

Oh boy, I see Vietnam already!!

the man in white

Re: The MAN (Tony Garcia)
Date: 1999, Feb 21
From: nicolas hill <nicolashill@yahoo.com>

The accountant, the man in white, is certainly like an angelic vision--"a miracle" Marlow calls him. The fact that he still dresses in fineries even in this heart of sickness and despair links him, for me, to the European Continent, to imperialism, like the author of THE MAN noted. Marlow says that the only reason he mentioned him is because it is from that man's mouth he first heard about Kurtz. And he mentions Kurtz in an almost offhand way. I can picture him not looking up from his bookeeping, saying 'you will no doubt meet Mr. Kurtz.' Imperialism is a way of life for this accountant, and he sees it as money--while it is really rape and evil. No doubt you will see some rape and evil.

Question: Question #4

Date: 1997, Sep 26
From: <Anonymous>

Marlowe overhears the Station Manager talking about Kurtz's moral ideas? What are those ideas?

Better things

Re: Question: Question #4
Date: 1999, Feb 20
From: Robert Hanson <bobdubob@aol.com>

We learn some key things about Kurtz when Marlowe overhears the manager. First, we find out that he has turned his back on the headquarters. We begin to sense that he has become strangely dedicated to his work. Next, we learn that Kurtz has expressed a vision for the trading operation that is very high minded. It was his notion that the stations should operate, not just as trading operations, but as centres for learning. Though the passage is not explicit, we get the idea that Kurtz was looking to enlighten the native people is several areas. The expression 'better things' is used and suggests an overall effect he hoped to have of the tribal culture.

Kurtz's moral ideas, then, seem to fit in with the typical goals of a missionary- he wants to civilize the savage. His goals, however, may be more practical and helpful to the natives. If we think of Kurtz's ideas as being centered on the general welfare of the tribal people (health, diet, living situations, etc) and not just forcing their conversion, they are noble indeed. What is interesting is the attitude of the manager. He attacks Kurtz for his desire to help the natives- calling him an 'ass'.

High morals, deep thoughts

Re: Better things (Robert Hanson)
Date: 1999, Feb 21
From: <fosterzz@oxy.edu>

He dictates the inner station. Kurtz believes he is the emissary of light come to instruct, improve and humanize the savage "brutes." The problem is that he has seen something inside of himself that is not unlike the savages. The jungle is him, and he is it. The station manager and uncle cannot comprehend staying in the jungle as Kurtz has done, and they think of him as an ass for believing one man can single-handedly control the council. He has high morals indeed, but what makes them so confounding is that they are born of a man believing he has the Calling to construct this beacon of colonialism. His morals are also based upon unorthodox methods. He begs, borrows and steals ivory; he is the savage one, but the ironic part is that he is the most successful of the ivory traders. Conrad describes the accountant and the manager- both keep up their appearances despite the demoralization around them, or keeping books as tidy as apple pie while men die nearby. But it's Kurtz's willingness to resort to the savage to succeed, that scares them. It's his wilingness to admit the dark, animalistic tendencies of the natives in himself, and his willingness to exploit this "savage" quality in order to achieve the same goal- colonialization.

Kurtz's Morals

Re: Question: Question #4
Date: 1999, Feb 22
From: Jake Sullivan

Pg. 87
Marlowe overhears the manager describe Kurtz's views as "not only towards better trade, but also for humanising, improving, and instructing." The managers feel that this threatens their goal of raping the land and it's people for all that it is worth.

Question: Question #5

Date: 1997, Sep 26
From: <Anonymous>

Kurtz wrote a report for The International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs. What is his main point? What does his p.s. mean?

Between the idea and the reality

Re: Question: Question #5
Date: 1999, Feb 20
From: Trager

The main point of Kurtz’ ‘pamhplet’ is that the Europeans, appearing to the native Africans as would deities, have an opportunity to “exert a power for good pracdtically unbounded”. The postscriptum represents his reaction to his practical experience as he acted on his theories.

exterminate all the brutes

Re: Question: Question #5
Date: 1999, Feb 21
From: nicolas hill <nicolashill@yahoo.com>

"Exterminate all the brutes" is ironic for me. Kurtz is a brute, not a deity. Imperialism is brutish. It is interesting that Marlow quotes the opening part of the report and then says, 'from that point he soared and took me with him. Marlow's opinion of Kurtz and his ultimate connection or rejection of him is a very key part of the book for me, and one that I must admit I have not reconciled within my own head.

Question: Question #6

Date: 1997, Sep 26
From: <Anonymous>

What is the symbolic significance of the Russian "Harlequin?"

If he only had a life

Re: Question: Question #6
Date: 1999, Feb 21
From: <fosterzz@oxy.edu>

The visual of the man is that of a clown, raggedy, colorful, comical. He's a buffoon, and therefore a symbol of the hollow empty morals of colonialization. Who can take this guy seriously? And it proves that when man faces himself in the eyes of the other, in this case the so-called savage, he does one of two things; he snaps like the harlequin, or he becomes the savage like Kurtz. The Russian is simply the lifeless form that takes on the ideology of what's around him, in this case it's Kurtz's beacon he is drawn to and spews forth. The traders of Europe are the same for their country- they simply follow the orders given to them and obey blindly. Conrad tells us that Kurtz is this man's life, that he filled the Russian's life and now has an unquestioning follower. The Europeans controlled their colonists much in the same manner and it's another way Conrad satirizes emperialism.

Question: Question #7

Date: 1997, Sep 26
From: <Anonymous>

What does Marlowe mean when he says of Kurtz: "he was hollow at the core?"

Searching

Re: Question: Question #7
Date: 1999, Feb 22
From: Erica <schillin@artcenter.edu>

Kurtz was hollow at the core, and described so by Marlowe because of the empty yearning, the search for meaning and purpose that perplexes all humans. Kurtz entered the heart of darkness in search of an important meaning for himself.

Kurtz ruled with power and might, performing selfish, greedy acts upon the land and the people. All of this he did while managing to charm the natives into believing that he was some sort of powerful diety to be served and worshipped.

The wilderness, as well as his successes therein, charmed Kurtz in to an insane vision of himself and his own importance and power.

Kurtz died realizing the shallowness in which his existence was ending.

Question: Question #8

Date: 1997, Sep 26
From: <Anonymous>

What is the meaning of Kurtz's final words: "The Horror! The Horror!"

A stab

Re: Question: Question #8
Date: 1999, Feb 22
From: ML <mlstoughton@earthlink.net>

...in the dark. Kurtz utters in his final breath, "The Horror! The Horror!", in reference to the savage nature of the soul. Hiding beneath the cultured facades we all present to one another our entire lives, the soul harbors the basest lusts, terrors, and dreams deep beneath the surface. Kurtz responds to the vision of his inner-self, what is at his core, the savage, the beast, the power which is at the center of man. The barbarian that is our ancestor lives in all of us, and is especially visible to Kurtz and Marlow.

Bravo!

Re: A stab (ML)
Date: 1999, Feb 22
From: Erica <schillin@artcenter.edu>

I agree completely. :)

The Scramble for Africa

Date: 1997, Oct 05
From: john

Here's some good information about the historical context of Heart of Darkness: http://www.pvhs.chico.k12.ca.us/~bsilva/projects/imperialism/scramble.htm

Sad: Dr. Livingstone's view of Africans

Date: 1997, Oct 05
From: john

Here's a statement from Livingstone that reveals his attitude to Africans:

"Even Dr. David Livingstone told his assistants in the Zambezi expedition to remember that they went among the river's tribes "as members of a superior race and servants of a Government that desires to elevate the more degraded portions of the human family."[Christopher Hibbert, pg.426]

The Democratic Republic of the Congo

Date: 1999, Feb 20
From: john

Brief article on the current "Democratic Republic of the Congo." http://encarta.msn.com/index/conciseindex/26/02640000.htm.

Bertrand Russell's Analysis of the Congo Free State

Date: 1999, Feb 20
From: john

Here's the English Philosopher's analysis of the Congo Free State: http://www2.prestel.co.uk/littleton/brfobcon.htm#st.

1890 view of African Slavery by a "Pioneer of Progress"

Date: 1999, Feb 20
From: john

Here's one of Henry Stanley's officer's view of the Congo and Slavery: http://www.kurtsaxon.com/select15a.html. Same year that Conrad is in the Congo.

Mark Twain's "King Leopold's Soliloquy"

Date: 1999, Feb 20
From: john

Twain wrote an attack against Leopold in 1905: http://marktwain.miningco.com/library/texts/bl_kls01.htm.

Interpreting the Other

Date: 1999, Feb 20
From: <Anonymous>

Stanley encounters the Africans: http://www.africanews.org/info/communic.html

Stanley Speech on Africa in 1890

Date: 1999, Feb 20
From: john

Stanley's call to Europeans to go to Africa: http://www.ebs.hw.ac.uk/hisc/digest/stan1.html.


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