HEART OF DARKNESS
"GOING UP THAT RIVER WAS LIKE TRAVELING
BACK TO THE EARLIEST BEGININGS OF THE WORLD..."
"The novel "Heart of Darkness" was written by the Polish-Born, Russian
author and seaman, Joseph Conrad. Conrads father possesed a romantic nature,
and his mother poor health; Conrad inhereted them both. Conrad's many
experiences at sea, impacted him so greatly he chose mostly to write about
the East, the sea , and the problems with African colonialism. In the same
way that the Belgian Congo in Heart of darkness has a mist or fog covering it,
so that we can never fully see the jungle for what it it; that is also true
with the novel itself. The descriptive detail and figurative language puts
somewhat of a barrier between the reader and the charcters and plot.
Conrad is the first narrator, and then it moves quickly to Marlow. It has
been observed by many researches that some but not all of Marlows life,
mirrors that of Conrad. The plot begins with four men on a ship, the Director
of Companies, the Lawyer, the Accountant and Marlow. From this point we
occasionally flash back, while continuing onward into the Heart of Darkness.
Although Conrad's novel is filled with religious and political symbolism,
philosophies about mankind, and chalenging charcters and vocabulary, it is
best to start off embarking on the journey with them, and simply reading.
The Heart of Darkness is not only a place in the Belgian Congo but a deep
place in mans own subconsious. Marlow is on a quest to investigate Kurtz's
reign in the jungle. Kurtz entered the jungles of Africa for the sake of his
ivory company, but later his motives changed to reforming the barbaric natives.
Marlow is fascinated with the man's work, and inspired by is idealism. He is
astounded by the fact that someone so civilized is converted to the primitive
state of existence for humans simply by being in the heart of darkness. Along
the way Marlow realizes his own shortcomings, and as he witnesses the corruption
of the system and plunges deeper into the reign of Kurtz, he realizes how easy
it is to lose sight of reality and be taken in by the environment. At the end,
when Marlow finally meets Kurtz, he finds that Kurtz understands how pointless
his existence has been. His last words (The horrors....) represent his
realization of this. However, when Marlow returns from his journey to England
and talks to Kurtz's intended, he doesn't tell her the truth, to preserve the
esteem she held for Kurtz.
Hopefully the tools below will help you on your quest through the Heart of Darkness.
Start your journey ...
- Discussion of themes and motifs
- Definitions of descriptive words and challenging vocabulary
- Explanation and interpretation of Conrad's charcters
- BACKGROUND-JOSEPH CONRAD
- Learn about the close-knit ties between Conrads life experience and his writing
- SHVETA AND SARA'S ANALYSIS
- An A.P. students thoughts and questions on the work.
- A.P. HOMEPAGE
- A directerory of links to other commonly read novels in an A.P. English course.
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