Presentation on theme: "Conrad’s Heart of Darkness ENGL 203 Dr. Fike. Handout on Modernism Be sure to read the handout I sent on Modernism. Note: Heart Of Darkness is NOT stream."— Presentation transcript:
Handout on Modernism Be sure to read the handout I sent on Modernism. Note: Heart Of Darkness is NOT stream of consciousness!
Modernism in HoD What principles of modernism are at work in Conrad’s novel? Primitivism: –1643/135: “‘Going up that river….” –1645/137: “…we were traveling….” –1655-56/147-78: “…how can you imagine….”
Another Principle of Modernism The unconscious mind: –1645/137: The collective unconscious (Jung): “The mind of man is capable of anything….” –1638/130, top par.: Reference to dreams: “It seems to me I am trying to tell you a dream….” –Dramatization of the psyche (Freud): Superego: Europe Ego: Marlow Id: Africa –Points: Marlow has to mediate between competing extremes. The trip enacts this psychomachia, as well as a descent into the unconscious mind. Experiences become more dream-like as the voyage progresses.
Ways of Responding to the Unconscious Ignore darkness of the unconscious mind: –1630/122: Accountant (oblivious) –1633/125: Manager (hollow) Be overcome by the unconscious mind: –1673/165: “True, he had made that last stride….” Be aware of it but resist it with the help of work: –1673/165: “Since I had peeped over the edge myself….” –Melville, Moby Dick: “Look not too long into the fire, O man!”—but do look!
Conrad’s Inversion of Freud’s Triad Here is what one assumes: Superego: Europe (self-restraint) Ego: Marlow (attracted to both) Id: Africa (barbarity)
Deconstruction Key Characteristics: –Contradiction, not paradox –Separating a word from its referent –Conflating or reversing binary oppositions
Key Details 1656/148: “All Europe contributed to the making of Kurtz….” 1657/149: “He had no restraint….” 1662-63/154-55: “…Mr. Kurtz’s methods had ruined the district.” 1649/141: “Why in the name of all the gnawing devils….” What point emerges (next slide)?
Here’s the Point Superego: Africa (self-restraint) Ego: Marlow (attracted to both) Id: Europe (barbarity) The primitive people are more self- restrained than the Europeans. Conrad’s novel deconstructs Freud’s triad.
Deconstruction = Contradiction 1623/115: “whited sepulchre” (cf. Matthew 23:27); tombs should be dark 1634/126: “faithless pilgrims”; pilgrims should have faith Kurtz: tall guy with a name that means “short” –“He was just a word for me” (1638/130): signification is arbitrary. –Kurtz: German, short (1664/156). –“He looked at least seven feet long” (next line).
Setting and Narration On a yawl in the Thames estuary (“interminable waterway,” 1618/110; “a waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth,” 1619/111). We have an accountant and a manager on the yacht in anticipation of the accountant and manager we meet later on. Sense of human solidarity. The narrator is one of Marlow’s listeners: “one of Marlow’s inconclusive experiences” (1621/113). Marlow looks yellow on 1618/110—cf. 1624/116: “I was going into the yellow” (on a map).
Question What details suggest that this will be a tale of darkness? Take a few minutes and work with a partner to locate suggestive details on the novel’s first 3 pages. What things suggest literal or moral darkness?
A Tale of Darkness Gravesend (1618/110) “the sun sank low” (1619/111) Erebus and Terror “the monstrous town” (1619/111) “a brooding gloom” (1619/111) “‘And this also,’ said Marlow suddenly, ‘has been one of the dark places of the earth’” (1619/111). Romans (1620/112): Although civilization makes progress, the human heart stays the same. “But darkness was here yesterday.”
Next Activity 5 minutes: Discuss the end of paragraph 1 on page 1620/112: “The yarns of seamen” to “the spectral illumination of moonshine.” Do this in connection with 1638/130: “It seems to me I am trying to tell you a dream….” What points emerge?
Points Two types of tales: –Manifest content (“nut”) vs. latent content (“moonshine”) –The difficulty of communicating the experience –As regards the unconscious and the primitive, Marlow journeys into a nonverbal realm. –Fog: image of obfuscation (1650/142): “the blind whiteness of the fog”
Marlow’s Stops on His Voyage He visits his aunt and then crosses the English channel (1623/115). First stop: the sepulchral city (1623/115ff.): –Visits company office (1623/115-1624/116) –Sees the two knitting women (1624/116) The three fates: Clotho spins, Lachesis measures, and Atropos cuts. We know that Marlow will survive because Atropos is not there. The journey will not cut short his life. –Visits the doctor/phrenologist (1625/117): “‘the changes take place inside’”—i.e., a psychological journey
Marlow’s Journey He returns to say goodbye to his aunt (1625-26/117-18) Says negative stuff about women on 1626/118: “It’s queer how out of touch with truth women are.”
Man-of-war 1627/119: Marlow sees a man-of-war firing into a continent—“shelling the bush.” This is an image of futility parallel to the following things: –“a hole in the bottom of his pail” (1633/127) –Making bricks without straw (1633/127) –The so-called “faithless pilgrims” (1634/126) fire into the bush on 1652/144.
Outer Station 30 miles up the river, he meets the accountant on 1630/122.
Central Station Marlow meets the manager and brick maker (1633/125). 1637/129: “this papier-mâché Mephistopheles” This is also where Marlow gets his boat. 1640/132: The Eldorado Exploring Expedition passes through. What is the significance of the EEE?
En Route Marlow –Finds Towson’s book (1646/138) –Loses his helmsman (1653/145) –Remembers Kurtz’s report (1656/148) –And meets the Russian, who “looked like a harlequin” (1658/150).
Key Details 1624/116: “Dead in the centre.” 1626/118: “the centre of the earth” 1627/119: “catacomb” 1629/121: “the gloomy circle of some Inferno” 1631/123: “the very bottom of there” 1653/145: death of the helmsman 1655/147: “He had taken a high seat amongst the devils of the land—I mean literally.” What is the point of these details?
Answer Marlow’s journey is like a descent into hell. Aeneas loses his helmsman on the way to the underworld. In the Inferno, Satan is frozen in the ice at the bottom. If Kurtz is at “the very bottom of there,” then Kurtz = Satan. The difficulty of returning: 1641-42/133-34: hell is easy to enter but difficult to return from. Hell in literature is both a physical place and a psychological state—and so it is in Conrad’s novel as well. The farther Marlow goes up the river, the more intense the experience becomes: parallel to descending into the Inferno.
Questions for Day 2 1.References to women appear on 1623, 1624, 1626, 1630, 1655, 1665, 1671, and 1675ff. Do you agree with Johanna M. Smith that "the whole of his [Marlow's] story is seen to be a manful effort to shore up imperialism through patriarchy, through the nineteenth- century ideology of separate spheres"? (The quotation is from her essay "'Too Beautiful Altogether': Patriarchal Ideology in Heart of Darkness.“) 2.According to Marlow, how does one overcome darkness? 3.What do you make of Kurtz's report on 1656-57? 4.What does the presence of the Russian add in section III (1658ff.)? 5.What do you make of "The horror!" on 1672? What does Kurtz mean? Is Marlow right to call it "a moral victory“ on 1673? 6.Marlow lies to Kurtz's fiancée, the Intended. What do you make of this? 7.What has Marlow learned from his experience?