Heart of Darkness and Disgrace Essay

“Writers have always been interested in the kind of society in which they live and have highlighted problems of behavior, hypocrisies and inequalities that have existed. ” Discuss this referring to HOOD and Disgrace. It will be demonstrated that Heart of Darkness and Disgrace share a remarkably similar overriding message: discrimination in early 20th century Belgian Congo and late 20th century, post-apartheid South Africa are hotbeds of prejudice. I can assume, for example, that you already know that the British novelist we call

Joseph Conrad was actually a Polish aristocrat with an unpronounceable name; that at an early age, seeking adventure, he “went to sea,” as they used to say in those days; and that most of his works are based upon his experiences as a sailor on various ships In various parts of the world. I can assume that you know that Conrad wrote Heart of Darkness In 1898. During the time when European colonialism was In Its heyday and the cultural movement we call Modernism was being born.

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I can assume that you know that, like Marrow, Conrad spent some time piloting a small steamboat p the Congo River, into the heart of a land that was then being ruthlessly exploited as the private property of King Leopold of Belgium, and that, like Marrow, the experience left him morally shaken and physically ill–although, unlike Marrow, there was no Mr.. Kurt waiting for Conrad at the Inner Station. (In other words, Heart of Darkness is in part autobiographical and in part imaginary.

Such a statement, incidentally, can be made about all good works of fiction. ) The escalating crime In AS and how more and more people are talking of emigrating to places Like New Zealand 2. With reference to HOOD and Disgrace, compare the use made of narrative perspective and consider to what extent the readers attitude to the events and characters is influenced by this perspective. With Conrad, he unsurprisingly uses the typically modernist device of an unreliable narrator.

Charlie Marrow, who epitomizes the views and beliefs of a white middle- aged European, Involved In Imperial activities, Is shown to be deeply unreliable in terms of his not understanding both women and ‘natives’ – hence his admitting to not knowing his story on at least fifteen occasions In the book. In addition, Conrad further emphasizes Marrow’s lack of understanding through the use of the framed narrative encounters. Cottage aims to highlight in much the same way the lack of understanding his white middle-aged male protagonist has in terms of women and natives’ in the (post-) colonial society he live in.

The techniques Cottage uses to achieve are very different to Concord’s as he is not a modernist writer struggling with the uncertainty of the intellectual and aesthetic revolutions of the 19th century. Instead his work is influenced by post-colonial theories from the likes of Edward Said, ND the post-structuralism theories emphasizing the fallibility of language. The result 3. Compare the ways in HOOD and Disgrace handle the issue of closure and/or resolution. Closure, Attachment, and Abstract Objects in Heart of Darkness Or, Did Concord’s Kurt pioneer the Layout Litany? Onetime to think about the ending of Heart of Darkness, a conversation between the teller of the tale, Charlie Marrow, and Quartz’s bereaved fiance©e, known only as the Intended – a significant, diversification, practice (one thinks of those characters in Dickens novels carousing about like self-contained armored vehicles). She wants assurances of his goodness and nobleness of spirit, which Marrow provides, despite the fact that, however remarkable he may have felt Kurt to be, he also thought he Nas crazy at the end.

She wants to know his Quartz’s words and takes comfort when Marrow tells her that her name was the last thing that left his lips. But that is not so, at least not unless her name was Horror. And, in fact, I have no trouble imagining a bit of British sketch comedy in which The Husband refers to The Wife simply as The Horror. But Heart of Darkness is not a comedy sketch. It is … Well, what IS it? He story ending reads like a grim parody of all those 19th Century British novels that happily end with He and She destined for wedded bliss.

In Heart of Darkness and She are like two continents, call ‘me East and West, and never the twain shall meet. So that’s one thing. Here’s another. There’s that long paragraph in the second Installment – it was originally published in three installments in Blackfoot’s Magazine – in which Marrow, among other things, leaps ahead of his story and tells AS about all the ivory they found at Quartz’s station and piled onto the steamer. Let’s all that paragraph the nexus, for it seems to gather all the strands of the story into in the text, with 2nd, 3rd, and 4th longest being 1129, 1103, and 865 words respectively.

Anyhow, once the nexus gets good and rolling along, we have this: muff should have heard him say, ‘My ivory. ‘ Oh yes, I heard him. ‘My Intended, my ivory, my station, my river, my–‘ everything belonged to him. ” Somewhat later in the story, in the third installment, we have: Kurt discoursed. A voice! A voice! It rang deep to the very last. It survived his strength to hide in the magnificent folds of eloquence the barren rankness of his heart. Oh, he struggled! He struggled!

The wastes of his weary brain Newer haunted by shadowy images now–images of wealth and fame revolving Obsequiously round his inextinguishable gift of noble and lofty expression. My Intended, my station, my career, my ideas–these were the subjects for the occasional utterances of elevated sentiments. It’s as though those things all occupied the same place in his mind. What is that place? There’s another connection to be made. In paragraph 160 (of 198 in total*) Marrow tells us that, when Quartz’s mother died, she had been “watched over … By his Intended.

So, if I may invoke that myth logic I Invoked so often in my remarks on Apocalypse Now, could it be that all those things – the Intended, the ivory, the station, the river, the career, the ideas – that they’re all stand-ins for The Mother? Or the infant, Freud has told us, The Mother is all – or is it merely The Breast? She is the World. For the adult Kurt, a man given to abstract ideas of the highest purpose and grandest reach, a man now utterly detached from his familiar surroundings in the heart of a strange continent where he hopes to make his fortune, it turns out that he’s never left the scope of mother comfort.

Except that she’s no longer there, and all the rest of it is inadequate to slake his infinite need for Mother’s Love Lost. And so we get that bitter bitter lie of an ending. In those Happily Ever After books – kissing cousins to the Hot Romance books so beloved by Emma Ovary – one’s beloved provides the adult with the psychological closure Mother provided to the Infant. But there is no such closure for Kurt – he dead – nor for the Intended.

Marrow, however, out of his attachment to the man that might have been, and perhaps out of compassion, decides that there is no point in disabusing the Intended f her illusions. With her Beloved dead, there is no Happily Ever After for her. But at least he can allow her the illusion of the Happily Ever After that Might Have Been. But let’s return to that list – my Intended, my ivory, my station, my river, my career, my ideas, a Layout litany if ever there was one. What’s on my mind is the problem of extending human desire and concern beyond the range of phenomena bequeathed by biology.

Biology gives us the need and desire for food and sustenance, for sex, and for what John Bowl has called a secure base, The Mother, that is, the infant’s attachment figure (which isn’t necessarily the biological mother, though it usually is). Theology and some simple systems concepts. The result was the now familiar account of infant attachment. In 1982 Peter Marries published an essay, “Attachment and Society,” in which he discussed utopian religious communities and suggested (p. 99): So those who try to live without exclusive ties of relationship, like the people of Oneida or the members of a monastic order, have to create a surrogate that will fulfill for them the same structural need for some ordering of priorities of concern. Characteristically, they find it in a symbolic relationship with the same emotional connotations as a personal pond; they are brides of Christ, children of a supernatural father. That is to say, the attachment system is being “repressed” by having attachment focus on symbolic beings rather than real ones.

Much of ritual and story- telling, I submit, seems to serve such a purpose. “hen Conrad invokes Quartz’s litany (my Intended, my ivory, my station, my river, my career, my ideas) and links it all to Quartz’s mother via the Intendeds deathbed ministrations, he’s playing on that reposing. He’s blowing its cover, so to speak, putting it out there for us to see. All of those things run together in Quartz’s mind because they’re all attachment objects, or, if you will, facets of the primal object, the one that’s gone. That’s the psychic place they occupy in common.

Now, think of the whole story as being inscribed within that space, that space as it existed in Concord’s psyche, as it exists in our psyche. Quartz’s litany marks the center of that space while the listeners in the frame tale, which returns in the final paragraph, are at the periphery. The story itself covers or rather, given Concord’s impressionist method, samples the rest of the space. And the nexus, in which the litany is introduced, samples the sample. That’s a very clever bit of construction: litany within nexus within the story. And the story within the world.

Marrow and the Wilderness in Heart of Darkness Marrow has always been mystified and curious about the parts of the world that have been relatively unexplored by the white race. Ever since he was a young boy he used to look at many maps and wonder Just what lay in the big holes that were unmapped. Eventually one of these holes was filled up with the continent of Africa, but he was till fascinated by the African continent. When he found out that he could work with a company that explored the Congo area in Africa he Joined immediately.

This was “a mighty big river… Resembling an immense snake uncoiled, with its head in the sea, its body at rest curving afar over a vast country, and its tail in the depths of the land”. Irish snake-like river was full of mystery to the adult Marrow and he found himself strongly drawn to it. His Journey; he finds out that the captain he is replacing was killed over a trading disagreement with a chief. The captain believed he was being conned so he recorded to beat the chief over the head with a stick. The chiefs son then stabbed him with a spear and killed him.

This incident is significant because of the fact that this captain was described as “the gentlest, quietest creature ever walked on two legs” The reason for his outburst is explained by the fact that “he had been a couple of years already out there”. Marrow leaves for the Congo, and when he finally reaches the company’s lower station he begins to see how the white man has attempted to civilize and control the Mildness of Africa and its inhabitants. The Congolese were being used as slaves at he station to build railroads.

The scene left Marrow feeling that the blacks “were not enemies, they were not criminals, they were nothing earthly now, nothing but black shadows of disease and starvation”. Marrow sees how the asserted superiority of the Unite man has led to the devastation of the local natives in both spirit and body. Marrow then heads out of the lower station towards the company’s central station by foot. He notices on his Journey the fact that there were “paths everywhere; a stamped-in network of paths spreading over the empty land.

The population had cleared out a long time ago. There were “several abandoned villages”. This again shows how the colonizers had impacted on the land and its inhabitants. Once he reaches the central station Marrow begins to feel more connected to the Congo – he begins to see into the darkness. He notices that there is “a great silence around and above. ” The only noise he hears is “the tremor of far-off drums… A sound Nerd, appealing, suggestive, and wild”. He marvels at how different the Congo is from the civilized city he has traveled from.

Africans wilderness and its inhabitants exist in harmony with one another – it is the colonizers who have upset this balance. Moscow is moved by the drums and he acknowledges that they appeal to him on some primitive level he had forgotten was there. He begins to consider that in a place like the Congo a man can reconnect with who he really is rather than what society has made of him. ‘Going up the river arms was like traveling back to the earliest beginnings of the Nor, when vegetation rioted on the earth and the big trees were kings.

An empty stream, a great silence, and impenetrable forest. The long stretches of the waterway ran on, deserted, into the gloom of the overshadowed distances”. Marrow begins to eel the landscape pulling at his primitive instincts locked within his civilized shell. Rhea Congo and its people were free of the restraints placed upon man in an industrialized and civilized world. Can assume, for example, that you already know that the British novelist we call losses Conrad was actually a Polish aristocrat with an unpronounceable name; that at ships in various parts of the world.

I can assume that you know that Conrad wrote Heart of Darkness in 1898, during the time when European colonialism was in its experience left him morally shaken and physically ill; although, unlike Marrow, there Nas no Mr.. Kurt waiting for Conrad at the Inner Station. (In other words, Heart of incidentally, can be made about all good works of fiction. ) And thus, assuming that [o already possess these bits of information, I don’t have to mention them. Let us begin by confirming that we accept that life need not imitate art and art, in turn, is not necessarily an accurate mirror of life.

In short, a novel is not a kind of orderly argument. It is addressed to the reader, not the student, and its ordering principles are of an altogether different, and more difficult, kind. For the novelist, it is the illness of experience, not the abstract meaning of the experience, which counts. In short, for Conrad, “truth” in fiction is not philosophical; it is, rather, like the truth in painting and music, an appeal to beauty and mystery and pain, an appeal to our capacity for delight and wonder and loneliness and fellowship – an appeal, in other Norms, to the fullness of all our multi-layered experience.

For Conrad then, as for most modern artists, the world as we experience it is not the sort of place that can reduced to a set of clear, explicit scientific or philosophical abstractions. Its truths, the truths of the psyche, of the human mind and soul, of experience itself, are messy, ‘ague, irrational, suggestive, and dark -and it is these kinds of truths, says Conrad, that art, and art alone, can convey to us.

Note that Marrow supports this notion when he expresses a story-teller’s exasperation at his own limited powers of communication: “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 lettermen 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 En dream–alone .. We could even go so far as to say that one of Concord’s apparent intentions in Heart of Darkness is to undermine our reliance on abstract Ideas, and abstract notions of truth, as they are generally applied to the real world.

If e seeks to lead his readers to an experience of the “heart of darkness” it is not to shed the light of reason on it, to analyses and define it in some abstract way, but rather to re-create, in all its fullness, his experience of darkness in our feelings, our Nil see that Heart of Darkness is not a coded message, a kind of complicated puzzle {o are supposed to solve in order to get the meaning or message that is hidden in it. It is, rather, a re-creation in a pattern of words and images of a set of experiences that can, if you read it well, become a part of your own experience.

To put it another Nay, Heart of Darkness, or any good novel, for that matter, is a kind of small world unto itself As a reader, your Job is to enter into the experience it contains, to sit on the deck of the Nellie as night comes on and listen to the story Marrow has to tell; to be curious with Marrow about Mr.. Kurt; to smell dead hippo and hear the drumbeat of the natives and sense the impenetrable vastness of the wilderness, with all its multitude of claims upon us.

When I say that Heart of Darkness is a kind of small Nor which we can experience, rather than a system of ideas we must understand, I imply mean that there is no single right way of understanding it. I also mean that just as we try to understand our world through a number of different systems of thought, so, too, can we try to understand Heart of Darkness in various ways depending upon what sorts of questions we ask of it.

The book is also concerned, for example, with religion, and so we might want to examine the way Conrad plays with the concept of pilgrims and pilgrimages, or the role of Christian missionary concepts in the Justifications of the colonialists, or the dark way in which Kurt fulfills his own sessions ambitions by setting himself up as one of the local deem-gods. Certainly Heart of Darkness is preoccupied with general questions about the nature of good and evil, or civilization and savagery.

And certainly Heart of Darkness raises and elaborates upon some quite specific moral questions: What saves Marrow from becoming evil? Is Kurt more or less evil than the Manager and the pilgrims? Why does Marrow think that lies are linked to mortality – that is, why does he associate lying with death and what is happening to him? Is he acting morally or immorally when he lies to Kurt”s Intended? And what price must he pay for his lie? A serious contemplation of questions such as these can certainly shed some light.

Certainly the way in which Conrad chooses to tell his story is unusual; we have someone, an outside narrator, telling us a story he has heard from someone else, Marrow The story Marrow tells seems to be about a man named Kurt, but most of “hat Marrow knows about Kurt he learns from other people, many of whom have all sorts of reasons for not telling Marrow whatever simple truths they might know Marrow has to piece together much of Quartz’s story, and make guesses to fill in the hinges he cannot know for sure. So do we really get to know anything about Kurt? Is there, in fact, really a Kurt about whom anything specific can be known? It is North recalling here that one of the traditional connotations of the word darkness is emergence and that one of the traditional connotations of the word light is knowledge. Is there the light of knowledge in the Heart of Darkness? What kind of knowledge? What kind of knowing? So where are we? A little lost, I suspect… This mean that Heart of Darkness – like the real world – may turn out to be, in question, I believe, is no. He real world may indeed be a chaos, and all our attempts to reduce it to reasonable order may turn out to be ultimately futile, but works of art, I believe, always have an order of their own.

I would go so far as to suggest that Form is exactly what makes a work of art artistic – in fact, it is part of the definition of what we mean when we say art. And to appreciate the form of a work of art – which is important if you wish to see the work for what it is in and of itself – you have to stop asking abstract questions about what the work means and start noticing how formal patterns are used to give order and structure to the thing. Given the limits of time I Nil limit myself to making only three brief suggestions about how to talk about the form of Heart of Darkness. First, notice that the book is divided into three chapters.

It might be worthwhile to ask “hat happens in each of those chapters, and why Conrad chooses to make the breaks where he does. It is also worth noting that Marrow breaks off his story exactly three times: three times the outside narrator comes back to say something, once in chapter one, twice in chapter two, and not at all until the end in chapter three. I Mould like to suggest that it will be worth your while to see what Marrow is talking bout in the page or so before each break, and how it relates to what the outside narrator says is happening on the Newly, and to what Marrow says when he starts speaking again.

Are there other things that come in threes in Heart of Darkness? How about the three stations of Marrow’s Journey? Or the three women who frame his Journey–his aunt, Quartz’s African girlfriend, and the Intended? And what about three possible central characters: Kurt, Marrow, and the outside narrator? I’m sure if you inspect the book closely you can find other patterns that come in threes. Rhea second aspect of form is what I’ll call the Russian doll effect. Do you know those traditional dolls made in Russia which open up and there’s another doll inside, and then you open that to find still another doll.

You keep opening dolls until you’re down to a little nubbin of a thing. Well, that’s the form of the narrative of Heart of Darkness: At the center is the story of Kurt, around that the story of Marrow, around that the story of the narrator, and, by implication, around that there is still another story going on, the story of your reading of the book. As a formal device the Russian doll effect lends a particular structure to the book. Nat it signifies about the nature of the experience and how it relates to the the greater philosophical questions about life, I will leave for you to think about and discuss. He third aspect of form I want to mention has to do with the book’s images: those read. (Strictly speaking, images should be things that we see in the mind’s eye, but by general consent of the literary professionals, one is allowed to call the smell of dead hippo an image: I suppose you smell it with the mind’s nose. ) Vow are aware, I am sure, that the images of Heart of Darkness are not randomly placed, but are, to a great extent, arranged in patterns of opposition. There are, for example, things that are dark and things that are light.

There are also things that are black and things that are white. Moreover, many of the things that are light or white (the candle held by the Intended in Quartz’s painting of her or fading light on her forehead as Marrow talks to her) are surrounded by darkness, and many of the things that seem at first glance to belong to the dark or black side of things manage to partake of light and whiteness (Quartz’s Jungle bride is described as glittering and flashing, and Marrow often notices the white eyes or teeth of the black datives – or a bit of white cloth around a black man’s neck).

Similarly, although Europe at the time was generally thought of as the place of light, or enlightenment, and Africa was generally thought of as the place of darkness, Marrow insists that England, too, was once one of the dark places on the earth, and that the African landscape, like Quartz’s African bride, is often described in images of glittering light. And, along the same lines, don’t forget that the book begins at sunset n the bright Thames and moves into a night so dark that the men on the Nellie can’t see each other.

As the story is told we travel from the Outer Station to the Inner Station toward the heart of darkness and then outward again, presumably back toward civilization, Just as we travel inward from the outside narrator to Marrow to Kurt and then outward again until we are left with the image of that outside narrator seeing the whole world as belonging somehow to the realm of darkness. And let us not forget that the unnamed narrator tells us right away that the significance of Marrow’s tales is not, as IS typically the case with sailors, inside, like a kernel in a nut, but outside, like a haze round the moon.

If you must have a simple truth to put in your notebooks, it is that Heart of Darkness; in that it also exhibits these tendencies, is a modernist novel, which means that it is characterized by: a distrust of abstractions as a way of delineating truth an interest in an exploration of the psychological a belief in art as a separate and somewhat privileged kind of human experience an awareness of primitiveness and savagery as the condition upon which civilization is built, and therefore an interest in the experience and expressions of non-European peoples a skepticism that emerges from the notion that human ideas about the Nor seldom fit the complexity of the world itself Multiplicity, ambiguity, and irony: these are not the easiest forms of expression to out as a final thought I might add that it is precisely because the world appears to us to be multiple, ambiguous, and paradoxical, that we must strive to speak and write clearly. Otherwise there is only darkness, only confusion… Heart of Darkness – some themes to consider Grouping very few of the characters in this novella are clearly identified as individuals; we have the Manager’, the Lawyer’ and the Russian’. Groups are identified as the pilgrims’, the natives’ and ‘The Company and so on.

These groups have a few outstanding members, such as the native woman of arresting beauty or the red-haired pilgrim drunk with bloodthirstiness, but they mostly move together, make the same decisions, and have the same intentions. The obvious exception is Marrow, and his reaction against the colonial structures that place him slightly outside this system. Rhea same can be said for Kurt. Conrad critiques such patterns, in which individual in a society think like other members of their group without stopping to think for homeless. So, although this story may be specific to the Congo, he is commenting on the ‘grouping mentality of Colonialism as a whole. Primitivism As the crew make their way up the river, they are traveling (symbolically) into the ‘heart of darkness. ” The contradiction, however, is that Marrow also feels as if he Newer traveling back in time.

When Conrad wrote this story, scientists were learning that Africa is the seat of human civilization, and this knowledge is reflected in the fact that the trees are (almost prehistorically) enormous on the route down the river.

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