Presentation on theme: "Heart of Darkness BASTANTE – ENGLISH III. Key Facts Author: Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) Written in 1899 Genre: Colonial/Quest Literature Protagonist:"— Presentation transcript:
Key Facts Author: Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) Written in 1899 Genre: Colonial/Quest Literature Protagonist: Marlow Antagonist: Kurtz Point of View: First person (both Marlow and Unnamed Narrator) Heart of Darkness is a frame narrative: Marlow tells the story of his time in the Congo to the Unnamed Narrator, and the Unnamed Narrator describes hearing Marlow tell the story to the reader
Themes Colonialism – viciously ripping the wealth from Africa The Hollowness of Civilization – hopelessly blind and corrupt The Lack of Truth – Kurtz turns out to be the biggest monster of all; you can’t know other people, you can’t even really know yourself Work – a source of support for Marlow to keep his sanity Racism – views Congo natives as primitive and therefore innocent, while the white colonizers are sophisticated and therefore corrupt
Symbols Women – Marlow believes that Women exist in a world of beautiful illusions that have nothing to do with truth or the real world. Symbol for civilization’s ability to hide its hypocrisy and darkness behind pretty ideas The Sepulchral City – sepulchral means “of or relating to a tomb or interment.” Beautiful outside used to justify colonization, while hollow inside hides desire for power and wealth. Symbol for all of European civilization. Black/Dark and White/Light – Challenges the common theme of white = good and black = evil. Whiteness now symbolizes blindness, while blackness now symbolizes the unknowable and primitive heart of all men
Part 1 (1/10) Opens with the Unnamed Narrator setting the scene – five men aboard the Nellie, a ship at the mouth of the River Thames near London (the Director of Companies, the Lawyer, the Accountant, the Narrator, and Marlow) The characters’ names hint at the hollowness of civilization Establishes a dark tone – water symbolizing the unconscious, “the beginning of an interminable waterway.” The Narrator’s thoughts about colonialism are conventional and romantic: “The dreams of men, the seed of commonwealths, the germs of empire.” Marlow speaks up with an opposing view – England has a “dark heart”
Part 1 (2/10) Marlow believes the men’s devotion to work protects them from being corrupted by hate Marlow begins to tell his story. He asked his aunt to help get him a job as a steamboat operator for the Company, a continental European trading concern in Africa. He always went by “his own road and on his own legs,” representative of his belief in honesty and the importance of work
Part 1 (3/10) Marlow is hired by the Company immediately after Fresleven, a Danish captain, had been killed by natives over a disagreement regarding two black hens. The absurdity of Fresleven’s death foreshadows the absurdity Marlow will encounter in the jungle. Marlow travels to the unnamed European city where the Company has its headquarters – the “white sepulcher”
Part 1 (4/10) Marlow arrives at the Company’s office where he is presided over by two women who constantly knit black wool – symbols for death. After meeting the head of the Company, a “pale plumpness in a frock coat,” (implying greed masked by civility), he is directed to a doctor who measures his head to check for insanity. Marlow’s aunt refers to her nephew as an “emissary of light,” symbolizing women as civilization’s inability to see its hollow corruption. Marlow boards the steamer that will take him to the mouth of the Congo and passes the absurdity that is the colonization of Africa – men shooting at the jungle.