Passage Analysis Heart of Darkness
From homework • What will we, as listeners of his story, need to do in order to fully understand the meaning? And, how is his manner of conveying meaning appropriate to the description we get of Marlow at the start?
“…a decent young citizen in a toga…” (19-20/7) • “The fascination of the abomination – you know. Imagine the growing regrets, the longing to escape, the powerless disgust, the surrender, the hate.” • What image of a person does he develop in these lines?
Page 20/7 • “What redeems it is an idea only. An idea at the back of it; not a sentimental pretense but an idea; and an unselfish belief in the idea…” • What does this mean? Why “at the back of it”? Why not a “sentimental pretense”? • Who holds the “unselfish belief”?
Fresleven • How does the description of what happened to Fresleven (23/10) reflect what Marlow says most likely happened to the “decent young citizen in a toga” (19/7)? Knowing this link, how then do we read Marlow’s comment, “Mind, none of us would feel exactly like this…” (20/7)
The women • Consider Marlow’s opinion of his aunt. What does he say about them? How is what they say similar to or different than the “idea” Marlow mentions earlier?
First view of nativesCopythe following quote into your notes • “Now and then a boat from the shore gave one a momentary contact with reality. It was paddled by black fellows. You could see from afar the white of their eyeballs glistening. They shouted, sang; their bodies streamed with perspiration; they had faces like grotesque masks – these chaps; but they had bone, muscle, a wild vitality, an intense energy of movement, that was as natural and true as the surf along their coast. They wanted no excuse for being there. They were a great comfort to look at” (30/16). • Now analyze it…What is his initial view of the natives. What language develops this idea?
Diction… • “I came upon a boiler wallowing in the grass, then found a path leading up the hill. It turned aside for the boulders, and also for an undersized railway-truck lying there on its back with its wheels in the air. One was off. The thing looked as dead as the carcass of some animal…” • What image is created? What words develop this image? What is the effect/purpose of creating such an image?
In-Class work and HW for 10/5 • Read from page 33 bottom/19 top: “Instead of going up, I turned and descended to the left…” to end of part 1. • Remember to read closely and thoughtfully, annotating the book to facilitate your close reading. • Write responses to the following prompts in your journal…develop responses fully, reflecting insight into the text.
“Devils” • Consider Marlow’s description of the “devils” he has seen (34/19). What are the different types of “devils” he describes? What seems to link these “devils” and what separates them? • Watch the text for other “devils”… • the manager (40/25) • The “faithless pilgrims” (44/27) • The “manager’s spy” (45/28)/”papier-mache Mephistopheles” (48/31) • The “sordid buccaneers” of the Eldorado Exploring Expedition (54/36)
Reread the description of the chief accountant and Marlow’s reaction to him (36/21) • “I shook hands with this miracle…I respected the fellow. Yes; I respected his collars, his vast cuffs, his brushed hair…” • How are we to take Marlow? Why does he say that he has a respect for the accountant? What does this suggest about Marlow?
Copy the following quote into your notes • “In the steady buzz of flies the homeward-bound agent was lying flushed and insensible; the other, bent over his books, was making correct entries of perfectly correct transactions; and fifty feet below the doorstep I could see the still tree-tops of the grove of death” (38/23). • Now analyze it…what is going on and how does the structure of this quote support the ideas presented in the book so far?
Kurtz • Although we have not met Kurtz yet, we have been introduced to him. What do we know about Kurtz, and what is Marlow’s impression of him by the end of Part 1?
Self-Selected Sentence(s) • Select a sentence(s) that stands out to you as particularly artful for the use of language to convey meaning. Explain why the line(s) is so powerful and explore how Conrad’s use of language creates an effect.
Narrative Present • Reread page 50/32-33. How does the return to the narrative present help shape the story and Marlow’s view of Kurtz? How does the unnamed narrator feel at this point in Marlow’s narrative? Support with specifics.
10/6: Updated HW for Tuesday • Read from where we left off on page 60/42 to the paragraph on page 73/53 beginning “You should have seen the pilgrims stare!” • Answer the required three prompts on slides 19, 20, 21. The prompt on slide 18 is optional. • Enjoy your weekend!
Copy the following quote into your notes • “The sun was low; and leaning forward side by side, they seemed to be tugging painfully uphill their two ridiculous shadows of unequal length, that trailed behind them slowly over the tall grass without bending a single blade” (59/40-41). • Now analyze it…how does this description help us understand these two men?
Copy the following quote into your notes • “Trees, trees, millions of trees, massive, immense, running up high; and at their foot, hugging the bank against the stream, crept the little begrimed steamboat, like a sluggish beetle crawling on the floor of a lofty portico. It made you feel very small, very lost, and yet it was not altogether depressing that feeling” (61,43) . Now analyze it…how does the diction and syntax convey Marlow’s feeling?
Paraphrase the following lines… • “…And this stillness of life did not in the least resemble a peace. It was the stillness of an implacable force brooding over an inscrutable intention” (60/41). • What does the personification in these lines contribute to the setting? How does Marlow avoid “seeing” it?
Page 62/44 • “We were cut off from the comprehension of our surroundings; we glided past like phantoms, wondering and secretly appalled, as sane men would be before an enthusiastic outbreak in a madhouse. We could not understand, because we were too far and could not remember, because we were travelling in the night of first ages, of those ages that are gone, leaving hardly a sign – and no memories.” • How does this passage reflect the ideas about “remote kinship”? What does Marlow mean?
What is the source of Marlow’s feeling of kinship with Kurtz? • Why does Marlow observe that he has “at least a choice of nightmares” (101/77)? Choice between? • How does Marlow’s “friendship” with Kurtz parallel Nick’s friendship with Gatsby?
Why does Marlow remain “loyal” to Kurtz in the end? • Is it because Marlow believes Kurtz’s final words are “an affirmation, a moral victory” (114/88)? How are they such?
Reread “The Hollow Men” by T.S. Eliot • After reading Heart of Darkness, what do you understand about the poem? • What is the “shadow”? • Explain how particular lines / structure help develop overall meaning. • - How does this poem reflect the ideas in The Great Gatsby?
Link your responses to questions 4 and 5 to the “redeeming idea” (20/7) of the opening pages of the book. • Reread the opening pages from “when the Romans first came here” to “What redeems it is the idea…” (18-20/6-7). • Connect this “idea” to the Intended’s “mature capacity for fidelity, for belief, for suffering” (119/92) and “the faith that was in her,…that great and saving illusion” (121/94).
Compare/contrast the African woman with the Intended. • What is significant in the way each are described? • African woman: 99, 100, 109 / 75, 76, 84 • Intended: 119-121 / 92-94 • What do they each signify? What purpose do they serve in this novella?
Color • White/black imagery: examine the usage of color. When does it seem to fit the traditional role of white=good and black=bad? When is it reversed?
Marlow, as narrator • What do you make of Marlow so far? Of the opinions he shares, of his uncertainty, of his tone?
Copy the following quote into your notes “The great wall of vegetation, an exuberant and entangled mass of trunks, branches, leaves, boughs, festoons, motionless in the moonlight, was like a rioting invasion of soundless life, a rolling wave of plants, piled up, crested, ready to topple over the creek, to sweep every little man of us out of his little existence” (54/36). Now analyze it…what is going on and how does it support the ideas presented in the book?