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Heart of Darkness

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Title: Heart of Darkness Author: student Last modified by: Roddy Benton Created Date: 1/29/2007 3:12:02 PM Document presentation format: On-screen Show (4:3) – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Heart of Darkness


1
Heart of Darkness
2
Impressionism
3
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5
Why the Blurriness?
  • For modern novelists, the messiness, confusion,
    and darkness of the human experience is
    interesting.
  • Rather than trying to simplify and abstract a
    particular meaning from experience, novelists
    tend to wallow in the multiplicity of ideas and
    meanings and sensations that experience can
    provide.

6
Why the Blurriness?
  • Novelists are in the business of recreating and
    communicating the rich complexities of the
    experience itself.
  • Their purpose is to get the reader to re-live an
    experience, with all its complexity and
    messiness, all its darkness and ambiguity

7
Conrads View
  • For Conrad, the world as we experience it is not
    a sort of place that can be reduced to a set of
    clear, explicit truths.
  • Its truths - the truths of the psyche, of the
    human mind and soul - are messy, vague,
    irrational, suggestive, and dark.

8
Conrads View
  • Conrads intention? to lead his readers to an
    experience of the heart of darkness,not to shed
    the light of reason on itbut to recreate his
    experience of darkness in our feelings, our
    sensibilities, our own dark and mysterious hearts

9
About the Novel
  • Since its publication, Heart of Darkness has
    fascinated readers and critics, almost all of
    whom regard the novel as significant because of
    its use of ambiguity and (in Conrad's own words)
    "foggishness" to dramatize Marlow's perceptions
    of the horrors he encounters.
  • Critics have regarded Heart of Darkness as a work
    that in several important ways broke many
    narrative conventions and brought the English
    novel into the twentieth century.

10
About the Novel
  • Notable exceptions who didn't receive the novel
    well were the British novelist E. M. Forster, who
    disparaged the very ambiguities that other
    critics found so interesting, and the African
    novelist Chinua Achebe, who criticized the novel
    and Conrad as examples of European racism.

11
Key Facts
  • Full Title  Heart of Darkness
  • Author Joseph Conrad
  • Type of Work Novella (between a novel and a
    short story in length and scope)
  • Genre Symbolism, colonial literature, adventure
    tale, frame story, almost a romance in its
    insistence on heroism and the supernatural and
    its preference for the symbolic over the realistic

12
Key Facts
  • Time and Place Written England, 18981899
    inspired by Conrads journey to the Congo in 1890
  • Date of First Publication Published in 1902 in
    the volume Youth A Narrative and Two Other
    Stories
  • Narrator There are two narrators an anonymous
    passenger on a pleasure ship, who listens to
    Marlows story, and Marlow himself, a middle-aged
    ships captain.
  • Point of View The first narrator speaks in the
    first-person plural, on behalf of four other
    passengers who listen to Marlows tale. Marlow
    narrates his story in the first person,
    describing only what he witnesses and
    experiences, and provides his own commentary on
    the story.

13
Key Facts
  • Tone Ambivalent Marlow is disgusted at the
    brutality of the Company and horrified by Kurtzs
    degeneration, but he claims that any thinking man
    would be tempted into similar behavior.
  • Setting (time) Latter part of the nineteenth
    century, probably sometime between 1876 and 1892
  • Setting (place) Opens on the Thames River
    outside London, where Marlow is telling the story
    that makes up Heart of Darkness. Events of the
    story take place in Brussels, at the Companys
    offices, on the Congo, and a Belgian territory.
  • Protagonist Charlie Marlow

14
Key Facts
  • Major Conflict Both Marlow and Kurtz confront a
    conflict between their images of themselves as
    civilized Europeans and the temptation to
    abandon morality completely once they leave the
    context of European society.
  • Rising Action The brutality Marlow witnesses in
    the Companys employees, the rumors he hears that
    Kurtz is a remarkable man, and the numerous
    examples of Europeans breaking down mentally or
    physically in the environment of Africa.
  • Climax Marlows discovery, upon reaching the
    Inner Station, that Kurtz has completely
    abandoned European morals and norms of behavior.
  • Falling Action Marlows acceptance of
    responsibility for Kurtzs legacy, Marlows
    encounters with Company officials and Kurtzs
    family and friends, Marlows visit to Kurtzs
    Intended.

15
Key Facts
  • Motifs Darkness (very seldom opposed by light),
    interiors vs. surfaces (kernel/shell,
    coast/inland, station/forest, etc.), ironic
    understatement, hyperbolic language, inability to
    find words to describe situation adequately,
    images of ridiculous waste, upriver versus
    downriver/toward and away from Kurtz/away from
    and back toward civilization (quest or journey
    structure)
  • Symbols Rivers, fog, women (Kurtzs Intended,
    his African mistress), French warship shelling
    forested coast, grove of death, severed heads on
    fence posts, Kurtzs Report, dead helmsman,
    maps, whited sepulchre of Brussels, knitting
    women in Company offices, man trying to fill
    bucket with hole in it

16
The Order of HDs Structure
  • Three
  • Chapters
  • Marlow breaks off the story 3 times
  • Stations
  • Women
  • Central Characters
  • Frame Narrative
  • Light and Dark
  • Transformation

17
Heart of Darkness as a Modernist Novel
  • an interest in exploring the psychological
  • an awareness of primitiveness and savagery as the
    condition upon which civilization is built
  • Multiplicity, ambiguity, irony

18
A Final Thought
  • Multiplicity, ambiguity, and irony are not the
    easiest forms of expression to cope with when you
    are a student and asked to express yourself
    clearly and directly. But it is precisely
    because the world appears to us to be multiple,
    ambiguous, and ironic that we must strive to
    speak and write clearly.
  • Otherwise - there is only darkness, only
    confusion.

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Questions to Consider as you Read
  • What does Marlows quest reveal about ones
    search for self?
  • What is evil? How does the novel seem to define
    evil?
  • What is good? How does the novel seem to define
    goodness?
  • Consider the following definition of darkness
    the absence of light

22
Modernism
23
Genre Theory
  • Genre a type of literary work with defining
    conventions audience expectations
  • Genres develop in response to particular
    cultural, communication, creative situations
  • Literary genres evolve like social institutions
    their conventions/codes emerge, develop, change
    over time, reflecting the (changing) values,
    imagination, spirit of an age, culture, artist

24
Genre History Dialogues with Tradition
  • Once you start making...rules,
  • some writer will be sure to
  • happen along and break every
  • abstract rule you or anyone else ever thought up,
  • and take your breath away in the process. The
  • word should is dangerous Its a kind of
  • challenge to the deviousness and inventive-ness
  • and audacity and perversity of the creative
    spirit
  • -Margaret Atwood (1939-)

25
Modernism General Definition
  • broke up the logically developing plot typical of
    19th century novel and offered unexpected
    connections or sudden changes in perspective
  • an attempt to use language in a new way
  • to reconstruct the world of art as much as the
    philosophers and scientists had redefined the
    world of their own disciplines
  • played with shifting and contradictory
    appearances to suggest the shifting and uncertain
    nature of reality
  • used interior monologues and free association to
    express the rhythm of consciousness

26
Modernism General Definition
  • made greater use of image clusters, thematic
    associations, and musical patterning to supply
    the basic structures of both fiction and poetry
  • drew attention to style instead of trying to make
    it transparent
  • blended fantasy with reality while representing
    real historical or psychological dilemmas
  • raised age-old questions of human identity in
    terms of contemporary philosophy and psychology

27
Early Modernism Heart of Darkness
  • Social breakdown, fragmentation lose faith in
    progress, science, religion, politics, bourgeois
    morality
  • Alienation from urban bureaucratic society, a
    sterile, materialistic waste land
  • Question, challenge structures of human
    life--e.g. Christianity-challenged as convenient
    fictions created to impose order, meaning on
    random, senseless, violent world

28
High Modernism Early 20th century Post -WW I
  • Decline of West Catastrophe of WWI shook faith
    in Western civilization its cultural values
  • Radical break from traditional structures of
    Western culture art
  • Artists sought new forms to render contemporary
    disorder alienation

29
20th century versus 19th century
  • 20th century vision implies a criticism of the
    19th century as a period of comfortable certainty
    and positive assurance that was dangerously
    unreal.
  • Note this vision neglects the roots of modern
    consciousness in 19th century science, sociology,
    and art. Modernity was already as subject of
    widespread anxiety and argument as the Industrial
    Revolution transformed social, economic, and
    political life.

30
Modernism (20th century)
  • Modernism claims to have
  • achieved a more accurate representation of
    reality
  • a better understanding of human consciousness
  • 20th century vision emphasis on how we know
    on structures of perception themselves

31
Challenges for Readers
  • Narrator/author suggests/evokes, does not
    explain personal symbol system
  • new, previously forbidden subjects
  • unsettle readers expectations shock out of
    complacency
  • Open-ended, ironic, multi-layered, inconclusive
  • Process/search/journey meaningful in itself (even
    if goal never reached)
  • Reader must be active co-creator of meaning
    emplot life

32
Experimental Forms for Multiple Realities of
Uncertainty
  • Flow of consciousness memory structures
    narrative associative (vs. linear) logic
    intertwines present awareness memory
  • Interior monologue, stream of conscious-ness,
    flashforward/ flashback
  • Narrative frame
  • Marlows 1st-person limited narration
    discontinuous / fragmented, suggestive /
    evocative-rational connections, introspective

33
The Contract
  • Audience must agree to play the imaginative
    game (suspend disbelief)
  • Atwood ...your life as the writer of each
    particular story is only as long, and as good, as
    the story itself.
  • The speaking voice mediates reader-listeners
    access to the story, but it is
  • double-voiced dialogue (Bakhtin) between teller
    listener each with active roles in making
    meaning.
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