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Department
English
Course
English 1022E
Professor
Lorraine Dicicco
Semester
Winter

Description
Eng1020E March 12, 2011 Lecture 28 TOPIC Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad  Like every other sailor, Marlow tells a lot of stories. Unlike other sailors, there is literary significance.  He has an episode as he has to save his friend being held captive in the Congos.  As we enter into the Heart of Darkness, we receive no illumination (figuratively). Maybe in a world of darkness, there is no point of relief. Some have a desire to empty just stop/end – even if there is no meaning.  As a boy, Marlow was charmed with the map of Africa. There is a snake-like river that runs through, but gets lost in the depths of the country (like the reader getting lost in literary fiction, left with loose ends). We desire resolution/answers.  Sickness (Marlow’s yellow complexion) is a modernist theme, and symbolic of Marlow being infected by the heart of darkness (literally and figuratively).  He even sides with Kurtz – who is carrying out mass genocide – over the Europeans, as the lesser of two evils. He does this because at least Kurtz (as a failed idealist) had ideals at one point (even though he is a mass-murderer), they are worse than the capitalist Europeans, who have no ideals or morals.  Marlow is autobiographical of Conrad, but also us. It questions what happens when you put an ordinary man in an extraordinary situation.  He is questing to get Kurtz (who is obsessive compulsively hoarding ivory).  The journey to the underworld is the quest for the dark “other.”  As an Englishman, Marlow has been indoctrinated to see foreigners as inferior, and bring knowledge to the savages.  Eurocentric Imperialism.  Begs the question: Are any of us really free of our cultural indoctrination? We can’t really escape our own racism!  Myth of the Other o The other is the “not me”; black; African; non-European. Marlow comes to realize that the other is really inside the self. Africa symbolizes darkness (contrary to the European’s belief that they are light and enlightenment). Perhaps the Europeans (including Kurtz) are more savage than the uncivilized. o Going into the heart of darkness is going into the self (lust, ambition, corruption); journey to the central (inner station).  Dopplegänger (German) = double goer o An uncanny double; Kurtz and Marlow. Marlow has to enter the inner darkness and save Kurtz, the madman. o As seen in Kertz, it is grotesque, repulsive, and embarrassing to see how ambitious we really are.  A pragmatic Englishman, Marlow is not focused on the philosophical quest, but surface and basic survival matters. Staying on the surface life is doing only what is comfortable. No one wants to see the dark horrors of existence.  Horrible moment of realization: Marlow realizes that the Africans are human.  It is easier to dehumanize large masses of people (than individuals).  The monster is within; the ugly truth.  European colonists are the other, remote from the Congo’s natives and reveal themselves to be more horrible and inhuman. IRONIC.  They were not above doing anything to these people (e.g. 1060 – the accountant).  Who is/what is the binary reality? – IRONY  “Kurtz lacked restraint.” (referring to his turn to genocide) o Euphemism (a nice way of
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