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Thread: Heart of Darkness-'The horror,the horror'

  1. #1

    Heart of Darkness-'The horror,the horror'

    'The horror, the horror'. What is it? How does Marlow interpret it? thnx

  2. #2
    aspiring Arthurianist Wilde woman's Avatar
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    It's purposefully left ambiguous. We're not let into Marlow's thoughts. But we can speculate. Perhaps Marlow thinks it's nothing more than Kurtz's madness taking over in his last moments of life. Perhaps he thinks it's Kurtz's damning judgment on the Interior, the corruption of the people around him, his own corruption, etc. We don't know for sure, but if you can find quotes in the book to back your thesis, you should be fine.

    Here's a site that analyzes the quote very briefly. Scroll to the bottom to check it out: http://www.shmoop.com/quote/literatu...ness/fear.html

  3. #3
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Yes I agree it's somewhat ambiguous, but I think the ambiguity is in how the reader should take it. As a reader I can see various reasons in why Kurtz says that. But I think to Marlow he interprets it as Kurtz arriving at a moral enlightment. Whether he does or not i'm not sure. But Marlow thinks he does because Marlow says it at one point I think, and Marlow's actions when he returns and speaks to Kurtz's bethrothed would not make sense if he did not think Kurtz had reached a death bed conversion.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

    Books are embalmed minds.

    My literature blog: http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/

  4. #4
    Thanks alot, i see what you mean, it does have a sense of ambiguousness. Any other interpretations of the quote are much appreciated. Please post them thnx

  5. #5
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    "The horror, the horror!"

    , in general.
    Last edited by zotz; 05-24-2009 at 01:28 PM. Reason: duplicate

  6. #6
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    "The horror, the horror!"

    I think that Conrad wanted each reader to interpret for himself/herself. I interpret it as Kurtz reflecting on his own savagery, in particular, and on the complete and utter savagery of colonial British savagery, in general.

  7. #7

    The Horror

    To understand what Kurtz meant by ‘The Horror, the Horror’ begs an understanding of horror itself.
    To understand horror one should start with fear
    Fear is the human primal reaction to that which we do not understand
    Which leads to our response - If you do not understand it – kill it!
    Horror is to confront that which you do not understand and it remains unrecognizable
    Kurtz came from the elite of the most developed of humanity.
    By very definition not a natural being and perhaps best defined as an abomination in the context of the natural world.
    Nature is chaos – speed it up and everything eats everything else
    Man’s world is at its best defined as controlled and orderly
    Man’s reaction to Nature is manifest early on in the book with shells being fired from a boat into the jungle with no real discernable target
    If you don’t understand it – kill it
    Kurtz went native in the most primal of places and in doing so became a more natural being
    From this perspective he saw human kind and his reaction was fear
    Reverting back to his more human nature of control at the end and viewing his more natural self his reaction was horror
    He was confronted by that which he did not understand and did not recognize it even though it was his visceral self
    ‘The Horror, The Horror’
    Notes

    When Kurtz says ‘We must kill them’ he starts with pigs and cows – these are abominations created by humans and therefore not natural beings
    His dream (and nightmare) of the snail and the razor – again the natural and that which is an abomination on the planet
    The (dream and) nightmare for Kurtz as a human is that the snail survived.
    Kurtz seemed obsessed with lies and therefore by context the truth.
    And yet what is the truth
    Truth resonates at a certain frequency - pay attention and we hear it - the longer we hear it the louder it gets.
    Eventually it becomes a roar
    Sort and discern the oncoming roar - or turn away.
    Continue on driven to what can only be described as a form of insanity.

    Those that survive are free to participate in an environment distinctly clear and alien.
    Kurtz being terminal was unable to survive the truth.

    Remember Apocalypse Now and stay safe -
    ‘Don’t get out of the boat’

    Bob Lathigee Vancouver Canada

  8. #8
    Registered User kev67's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by zotz View Post
    I think that Conrad wanted each reader to interpret for himself/herself. I interpret it as Kurtz reflecting on his own savagery, in particular, and on the complete and utter savagery of colonial British savagery, in general.
    The Congo was a Belgian colony. Actually I think it may have been the Belgian king's own personal possession.

  9. #9
    Horror is to face the incomprehensible with no frame of reference in which to place it
    To recoil with no grasp of the encounter.
    It is to come face to face with Chaos/evil/nature - as a being of order and control.
    What is evil then
    Is it at the other end of the continuum from good
    Then what is good – that which is ordered and controllable
    If that be so then the other end of the continuum is chaos
    But chaos is the natural order of things
    Speed up nature and everything eats everything else
    Chaos – beyond these few deminsions in which we grow, live, perceive - there are many more
    We sense them and recoil
    Chaos will tear us asunder
    Humans have managed to blow out bubbles of order and control and live within them
    So if we are beings of order and control and chaos (the natural order of things) is at the other end of the continuum then we are not natural beings living natural lives
    Abomination – like our cattle and eggs and KFC
    KFC – Horror – Abominations brought to life in horror, living in horror, with a horror of a death
    Have we become the very thing that we have no grasp of?
    Of course we have
    The Horror the Horror
    Then we have become evil/chaos and natural beings
    Do we now recoil from good

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