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Heart of Darkness Lecture

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Collin Hill

Heart of Darkness- Joseph Conrad Aesthetic- guiding figure that influences the write Conrad’s Traditional Modernism Conrad as a 19 thcentury realist i) focus upon detail and accuracy in plot, setting and character (describing the plot, characters, how they dress- older way of writing- th 19 century) ii) large-scale exploration of society and its constitutive parts (exploring society on a grand scale, very descriptive of society, and how it operates/runs- 19 thcentury) iii) an emphasis upon social and political matters over other human concerns (more interested in society/politics over individual concerns- 19 thcentury) iv) „real life‟ situations and events grounded in real history (real time and place, very descriptive) v) omniscient, third person narration (narrator is all knowing, performs the same role as God would, know/see/understand everything) Content: What a text is about: its story, subject, matter and ideas (what it is about) Form: How a text is written, its genre, technique, style and language (ex. novel not a poem) Understanding a text requires both form and content and the way they interrelate Conrad’s Modern Themes and issues (content) (subject of racism, colonization, human psychology- Marlow/Krutz, death of religion- where did the civilization the Europeans had go) i) Sigmund Freud Humans are influenced by unconscious, animal impulses We are motivated by a desire for survival and pleasure Dreams are gateway into human unconscious Humans are invented into religion in an unconscious effort to return to infancy Emphasis upon ambiguous psychology as a credible way of understanding humanity ii) Charles Darwin Evolutionary thought, and natural selection Humankind and apes have a common ancestor iii) Friedrich Nietzsche Life= will to power, or the desire to reshape the world to fit our own preferences Moral relativism Struggle is the basic human condition Democracy and religion perpetuate human mediocrity (worst things that humans have created, gives everyone a voice, not just those that earn it) „God is dead‟, and a new era of human supremacy is dawning (famous saying) (humans should not be contained by morals, but should seek power) iv) Karl Marx the importance of the working class capitalism prevents humans from achieving their full potential capitalists should be overthrown , private property abolished, and the peoples should own and control the assets of a nation in common c) Conrad’s Modernist Techniques and Devices (form) (learning to write differently to express these news ideas/events) unreliable narration (narrator is not trustworthy, lies, misleads you, or of unquestionable sanity) (Conrad does not give us a narrator to trust, someone who jumps back and forth) symbolism (represents a larger theme) allusion (one work of literature makes references/alludes to another form of literature) (Conrad makes references to the Bible) mythic method (classical Roman myths) (this texts borrows from myths) multivocality (a variety of voices that speak and compete to talk to you) Narrative Layering The framing narrative (framing narrative, first few paragraphs, starts with one narrator who sets the story by describing the boat he is on, then a individual on the boat, Marlow, takes over be telling a story about another boat he was on) (explains the long story, presents a context, and helps explain the central narrative, introduces to Marlow) (pg. 1, pg.5) Narrative Perspectivism (numerous perspectives in the text, causing 2 points of views- Marlow/Narrator) (pg.32 bottom- framing narrator, Marlow- shows how when Marlow tries to explain Kurtz he can‟t find the words, the framing narrative jumps in to mark importance) Subjectivity vs. Objectivity (corrupted, untrusted, biased vs. trustworthy, not bias) (Conrad gives us this objectivity through the framing narrator- character stands outside of the situation, tells us what Marlow says and what is going on in the world) (Conrad uses the subjective narrator- Marlow, bc he can be questioned, not fully trusted- different, causing modernism). (content what is being said, then you miss the point in the book, that everything is filtered through a different perspective- can never be fully trusted) Seven Perspectives on Heart of Darkness “Tall Tale” or “Sea Yarn” or Adventure Story (the story follows the very typical characteristics of an adventure story, the Victorian people were very suppressed, which caused the desire for adventure stories) (very basic level of understanding the story) (Sea, main character Marlow, goes from a „civilized‟ European place, to an uncivilized place in search of a mystery, ivory, adventure, etc. Succeeds in his adventure and returns as a sort of hero). (Pg. 3 bottom paragraph- setting us up for the story and how we should receive it) Fictionalized Autobiography (take your own fictionalized autobiography and alters it- takes out some of the bad,
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