View Full Version : confused

09-13-2003, 01:00 AM
It was of popular opinon throughout europe that they were "helping" the black savages, in heart of darkness, Conrad is just using Arica as a back drop. The same thing has occured throughout the world, in all countries 'civilised' by the europeans

03-17-2005, 06:12 PM
I have just read the heart of darkness for the fist time and found it confusing on several levels, however it has helped me to firm up my belief that we are all just a stone throw away from bestial existence. I feel this regardless of our acquired nature or relative societal values. The stone throw away from bestial existence can be a great journey, the whole of modern literature and life from Shakespeare to Mandela or the shameful aparthied of the late 20th century to modern slavery across international borders.<br><br>In the novel I feel Conrad uses Africa as the topical wilderness backdrop of that age to illustrate the relative values of civilised societies and their excuse for stealing the wealth and exploiting the "different people". <br><br>One chilling description of 6 chained Aficans goes from criminals at the start to "Raw Material" in one paragraph.

03-20-2005, 08:07 PM
I am a Chinese student. Now I am writing an essay on Heart of Darkness. It seems to me that Conrad's describing the black as "shapes",or "shadows is to condemn the evil colonialism and imperialism.

04-27-2005, 10:34 AM
I agree. The Africans are only incidental to the main theme of this book; namely the shocking ease with which all trappings of civilisation and order can degenerate into savagery. The movie adaptaion "Apocalypse Now" did without them completely.<br><br>Edward Said faulted Conrad on his inability to perceive that Africans would one day throw off the imperialist yoke and rule themselves. He however credited him with seeing into the hypocrisy behind imperialists fictions such as the "white man's burden". <br><br>In some sense you could say that he recognized a bond of kinship with the Africans, for the "Heart of Darkness" in Africa later re-emerges in London, with its "whited sepulchres".

04-27-2005, 10:47 AM
Is back drop not occurring as we know it today, in european civilization but we hid it in a way to show we are civilized. Is the question undefined in the story. There is no other word exept one cultures slavory of another, big fish eating little fish,for example Africa, there can be no test of time. A culture over taking another It would not be allowed with civilized or uncivilized cultures, today, ha the story laughs about the conquest. Stories of great People only talk about their evil deds but who would like to listen to stories of the opposite nature unless you are in the eyes of that type of story teller.

05-24-2005, 06:07 PM
The blurb says that the Marlow's struggle to fathom his experience involves not only a radical questioning of his own nature and values but also those of his society's. What exactly is the distinction between the two? is he not part of his society--eg the two nature and values interlink or overlap each other?<br><br>What is his society? Society as in human race in general--including the Africans, or solely the European society he was bred in?<br><br>Is Africa a mere backdrop and prop for the degeneration and contemplation of the European mind? Are the cultures and values of the Africans actually taken into consideration and given credit, or does the dehumanization of them in the narration serve only to contrast against the civilized whites?<br><br>Marlow seems to be quite lost--he recognizes the "remote" and "distant kinship" between the blacks and the whites, and the common ancestry they share. Yet at certain times he refers to the Africans as "black shapes" and shadows with no human forms, "dog in a parody of breeches", etc.. What is his stand? Does he view the Africans as savages or as a kin? Does he question the value of the African society?<br><br>It would be much appreciated if someone could enlighten me. thanks!:)

10-04-2005, 06:40 PM
The entire idea of the book is to examine the factors that can cause a normal, so called "civilized" person to be driven to insanity. It's not necessarily examining society's values, but his own. Society's values are his own, because he is "checked" by civilization. Because there are always people judging what can be deemed insane or improper in Europe and many other wealthy nations, Marlow is prevented from becoming insane. The story is set in Africa because there are no "checks" in Africa. The white men can basically do whatever they wish to- even portray themselves as a god (like Kurtz did). Marlow didn't see the Africans as kins either. He had mixed feelings about them, because by his standards they were still somewhat savages; however, he respect some black men because he knew them (like the Helmsman). He certainly didn't feel kinship toward them because in several instances within the novel, he was not exactly tortured inside by the treatment of them. When he saw the skulls on the posts he was surprised, but not disgusted. Anyway, that's just my opinion.

11-05-2005, 12:20 AM
whether he felt kinship with the africans has left me long undecided.. true he didn't exactly display anything to hint that he felt anything for them. but as Sarah06 suggests- maybe respect. remember how he realised that the 'savages' on the boat with him were cannibals and clearly outnumbered the white men. they were all starving and yet didn't go for them. marlow said he recognised restraint- something that the supposed civilised people seemed to lack. and thus his respect/admiration of that quality of theirs.

and yet in the first part he hardly or never refers to the africans as people, but always as objects or dehumanising references. so what exactly is his view of them? i'm confused. or is it as the title suggests? that he gradually learns as he progresses on his journey, and thejourney being a metaphorical journey into himself and hence changing his views?

argh. :crash: