Heart of Darkness

how is Marlow “not typical” of seamen?
he was a wanderer; went outside of home & comfort zone; is fascinated by secrets, yet thinks they’re not worth knowing
what is suggested by Marlow’s sitting position & state of mind?
Marlow is wise & beyond years from story he is about to tell; enlightened like Buddha; was damaged, and is now cynical from knowledge
what does “one of the dark places of the earth” mean?
London used to be as evil as Africa
why would Marlow begin his tale of a journey to the heart of darkness with an account of London in old times?
old-time London is parallel to modern-day Africa
what is the connection btwn London in Roman times & European colonization of Africa?
both “uncultured,” then were colonized by intruders
why has the Thames been “one of the dark places?”
Thames is the river of trade, where much colonization took place
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what is the significance of the reference to the invasions of the Romans?
compares pre-colonial Britain to Africa
why is young Marlow interested in maps & travel?
blank spaces on map fascinated him; wanted to travel there when he got older
what is the snake image & what does it mean?
represents the Thames river-like a snake uncoiled; idea of river for trade made interested him enough to get a steamer
what is Marlow’s attitude towards his strategy that he “tried the women” in order to get a job as steamer captain?
Marlow doesn’t like having to rely on women for jobs; he believes women are lower than him
can this be connected to classic mythology/the Bible: “white sepulcher?”
yes; means tomb, from Gospel of Matthew, gives white/black contrast btwn inside/outside of tomb; Leopold: looks good on outside, bad motives on inside
can this be connected to classic mythology/the Bible: two women knitting?
yes; The Fates-one is creating string & one is cutting string
can this be connected to classic mythology/the Bible: the deadly snake?
yes; refers to snake as devil in story of Creation
can this be connected to classic mythology/the Bible: center of the map, of Africa, & of Earth?
yes; Dante’s Inferno
can this be connected to classic mythology/the Bible: the color black?
black stands for death/afterlife in mythology; Kurtz wanted to exterminate all black people
can this be connected to classic mythology/the Bible: the archetypal journey itself?
yes; Exodus in the Bible
what measurements do the Doctor take & why?
measures Marlow’s head & temp; to research mental changes when going into state of agitation
what purpose does the Doctor serve in the story?
to foreshadow pilgrims going mad later in Africa
how do references to prehistoric times connect to other ideas in the story?
pilgrims think that natives are undeveloped
how is the African coast described?
black edge with white surf with a colossal jungle
is the description of “black fellows” mostly positive or negative?
negative
how do the descriptions of the “black fellows” compare to depictions of whites?
blacks are dehumanized, described as animals/things
what is the definition of “worsted?”
yarn from England
“they were dying slowly…fall on his breastbone:” what contrasts are in these paragraphs?
black men-white worsted; light of eyes-dark shadows
how does detail of white worsted connect to themes of European invasion of Africa?
symbolizes Europeans bringing own culture to Africa without considering the natives; strangling effect on Africans
how does Marlow’s description of Accountant contrast with his descriptions of Africans he’s encountered? effect on readers?
praises & admires Accountant; looks down on Africans. Marlow is racist, double-standard.
how does Accountant maintain his appearance?
by achievements of his character
what does Accountant institute?
institutes “professionalism” of company; is inconsiderate/indifferent of natives suffering & dying around him
to Marlow, what’s the Station Manager’s best qualification for his job?
he was never ill
what do we learn about the brickmaker from his description?
he is honorable, high in society, rich
what is a “paper-mâché Mephistopheles?”
Dr. Faust makes pact with devil (pmm) to sell his soul
what are the different character’s attitudes towards Kurtz?
brickmaker: afraid of him.
manager: wants Kurtz’ job.
Marlow: idolizes Kurtz
what do the actions of the pilgrims toward this hippo convey about them?
pilgrims threw hippo meat overboard-shows they’re impractical, don’t put natives into consideration
what could the hippo symbolize?
symbolizes black people; whites just killed them for game
how many times is “restrain” or “restraint” used?
13 times
why is “restraint” important?
without restraint, anyone has capability to fall into evils from human nature
what details create a sense of mystery about Kurtz?
no one knew of his profession; isolated self from whites; many knew of him yet did not know him
what do the Station Manager & his uncle hope will happen to Kurtz?
they hope to get rid of Kurtz
why do SM + Uncle want to get rid of Kurtz?
they want him to be hanged or at least let Africa take his life
thoughts about the description of native peoples?
?
how does the description of native peoples fit past notes?
descriptions are dehumanized; faces are grotesque masks, called ‘it’, etc; intruders are fascinated yet repelled
what elements are used to reinforce sense of alienation Marlow feels?
doesn’t understand culture: tribal clothing, witchcraft, cannibals
what parts of Marlow’s description of the fireman contain elements that are negative/patronizing?
calls him savage; says seeing him is like dog in breeches-was uncivilized, now is civilized after training
reaction to knobs on posts?
??
how do knobs on posts connect to other elements?
black objects-relates to racist remarks in story; satan like-Kurtz & paper-mache-m
Kurtz’s restraint?
expects respect in Congo, goes to any measures for power & acts however he pleases; in London, must act more civilized
what does it mean to be “hollow at the core?”
Kurtz is hollow-meaning he has no restraint
how does “hollow at the core” relate to meaning of title?
have same meaning-absence of good brings evil
what is Kurtz free from or not subject to?
acting civilized
what changes in attitude does Marlow experience with Kurtz & the manager?
Marlow realizes that Kurtz fled from duties, yet still says Kurtz stuck to his work; shocked by violence that manager wishes upon Kurtz
what descriptions of native people convey about how little of it is understood?
Marlow describes cloth around neck, digging giant hole, performing witchcraft…
how is treatment of woman reaching out to retreating boat connected to other elements?
adds to unknown culture; has hope when others don’t; parallel to Intended
“the horror, the horror?”
Kurtz has made judgement on horror of life; maybe sees summary of own life; M-Kurtz’s death fit his life
does Kurtz have any elements of universal genius?
somewhat; intelligent & clever, can bring self power/is well known on both sides of earth; but has no morals & is not wise
How does the journalist’s description of Kurtz succeed as a summary of Kurtz’s exploits in Africa?
says: Kurtz has faith, could get people to believe anything, was an extremist
How does the description of the Intended relate to the description of the woman on the shore?
mistress: Africa; repulsive yet attractive (paradox); black but dressed in white; looks like goddess; young; hot-blooded; temptation-to cover up Kurtz’s fault.
Intended: Europe; white but dressed in black; older; looks modest; shy.
both: stretched out arms, attractive, with Kurtz.
Ask yourself why Marlow would lie after all he’s been through to discover “Truth.”?
his journey through the heart of darkness gives him his own HOD
Why is Marlow again described as a buddha?
reinstitution of Marlow’s wisdom of world
What is meant by the comment, “We have lost the first of the ebb. . .?”
the waves have passed; darkness is behind us
Where does the novel end?
back on the ship on the Thames, with Marlow finishing up his story
After Marlow ends his tale, the frame story also concludes after only a brief paragraph. What effects does this structure have on readers? Do you think that the ending is effective?
ability to interpret the story on your own, which goes with theme of story, gives effect that whole story had metaphorical purpose; yes, it’s effective