“H ea rt o f Da rkne ss ”. Narrative Structure. Framed Narrative Narrator begins Marlow takes over Narrator breaks in occasionally Marlow is Conrad’s alter-ego, he shows up in some of Conrad’s other works including “Youth: A Narrative” and Lord Jim
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Paul O’Prey: "It is an irony that the 'failures' of Marlow and Kurtz are paralleled by a corresponding failure of Conrad's technique--brilliant though it is--as the vast abstract darkness he imagines exceeds his capacity to analyze and dramatize it, and the very inability to portray the story's central subject, the 'unimaginable', the 'impenetratable' (evil, emptiness, mystery or whatever) becomes a central theme."
James Guetti complains that Marlow "never gets below the surface," and is "denied the final self-knowledge that Kurtz had."
Conrad, writing in 1922, responds to similar criticism: "Explicitness, my dear fellow, is fatal to the glamour of all artistic work, robbing it of all suggestiveness, destroying all illusion. You seem to believe in literalness and explicitness, in facts and in expression. Yet nothing is more clear than the utter insignificance of explicit statement and also its power to call attention away from things that matter in the region of art."
Marlowe, the narrator, describes how difficult conveying a story is: "Do you see the story? Do you see anything? It seems to me I am trying to tell you a dream--making a vain attempt, because no relation of a dream can convey the dream-sensation, that commingling of absurdity, surprise, and bewilderment in a tremor of struggling revolt, that notion of being captured by the incredible, which is the very essence of dream . . .No, it is impossible; it is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one's existence--that which makes its truth, its meaning-- its subtle and penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live, as we dream--alone."
Ex: The way institutions/administrations work in the novel.
Who is the prole? Who is the bourgeoisie?
Idea that society is run by the bourgeoisie, who keep proletariats (workers) in line with propaganda at all levels of their institutions (church, school, government, media, business, etc.) repression
Socialism: A political theory that advocates a collective or government ownership of the means of production and distribution of goods and pay according to work done
Stresses the relationship of literature to its historical period
Deals with background knowledge
Ex: What historical and cultural comments are being made through the telling of this story? Imperialism? African culture? Modernism?
Radical: superiority of female attributes; individual more important than the group
Liberal: Work within society for equality- reform, not revolt; minimize differences; individual more important
Materialist: Minimizes biological differences; stresses also history, race, class; group more important
Ex: Look at the women in Heart of Darkness through a feminist lens. How are they portrayed? Why?
Psychoanalysis: Sessions in which a patient is encouraged to talk about personal experiences; especially early childhood and dreams in an attempt to get at our hidden unconscious motives.
Can analyze characters, or the author and the artistic process
What are the hidden motives that cause a character’s behavior and speech? How much background does the author reveal about a character (esp. childhood)?
Jung: Personal conscious (waking state); personal unconscious (storage and memory); collective unconscious (cumulative knowledge of the human race; genetically inherited)
Northrop Frye: There is an overall “monomyth” to all literature – archetypes
Jacques Lacan: Imaginary (birth to 6 months: wishes fantasies, we see ourselves in our mother’s image); Symbolic (we learn we are separate from our mother, we learn language, differentiate between male and female); Real (the physical world and everything in it, as well as that which we lack)
Example: How is Kurtz a form of Freud’s id? Whatdreamlike qualities does the journey down the river have? How can these be interpreted considering the message of the novel?
Example: Consider the archetypal journey/quest Marlowe takes.
This approach regards literature as “a unique form of human knowledge that needs to be examined on its own terms.” All the elements necessary for understanding the work are contained within the work itself. Of particular interest to the formalist critic are the elements of form—style, structure, tone, imagery, etc.—that are found within the text. A primary goal for formalist critics is to determine how such elements work together with the text’s content to shape its effects upon readers.
Threes: There are three parts to the story, three breaks in the story (1 in pt. 1 and 2 in pt. 2), and three central characters: the outside narrator, Marlow and Kurtz
Contrasting Images (light and dark, open and closed, civilized and savage)
Center to Periphery: Kurtz – Marlow – Narrator – Reader
Are the answers to be found in the center or the periphery?
Ex: Isolation/Silence vs. Noise
Ex: Good vs. Evil
Ex: Truth vs. Lies
Ex: Reality vs. Perception
Ex: Natives vs. Civilized
A distrust of abstractions as a way of delineating truth,
A desire for transcendence mingled with a feeling that transcendence cannot be achieved,
An awareness of primitivism and savagery as the condition upon which civilization is built, and a corresponding interest in non-European peoples,
A skepticism that emerges from the notion that human ideas about the world seldom fit the complexity of the world itself, and thus a sense that multiplicity, ambiguity, and irony – in life and in art – are the necessary responses of the intelligent mind to the human condition.