Heart of Darkness - Hinsdale Central High School

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Passage Analysis
HEART OF DARKNESS
“nineteen hundred years ago
– the other day…."
From homework
 What will we, as listeners of his story, need to
do in order to fully understand the meaning?
And, how is his manner of conveying
meaning appropriate to the description we
get of Marlow at the start?
“…a decent young citizen in
a toga…” (19-20/7)
 “The fascination of the abomination – you
know. Imagine the growing regrets, the
longing to escape, the powerless disgust, the
surrender, the hate.”
 What image of a person does he develop in these
lines?
Page 20/7
 “What redeems it is an idea only. An idea at
the back of it; not a sentimental pretense but
an idea; and an unselfish belief in the idea…”
 What does this mean? Why “at the back of
it”? Why not a “sentimental pretense”?
 Who holds the “unselfish belief”?
Fresleven
 How does the description of what happened
to Fresleven (23/10) reflect what Marlow says
most likely happened to the “decent young
citizen in a toga” (19/7)? Knowing this link,
how then do we read Marlow’s comment,
“Mind, none of us would feel exactly like
this…” (20/7)
The women
 Consider Marlow’s opinion of his aunt. What
does he say about them? How is what they
say similar to or different than the “idea”
Marlow mentions earlier?
First view of natives
Copy the following quote into your notes
 “Now and then a boat from the shore gave one a
momentary contact with reality. It was paddled by
black fellows. You could see from afar the white of
their eyeballs glistening. They shouted, sang; their
bodies streamed with perspiration; they had faces
like grotesque masks – these chaps; but they had
bone, muscle, a wild vitality, an intense energy of
movement, that was as natural and true as the surf
along their coast. They wanted no excuse for being
there. They were a great comfort to look at” (30/16).
 Now analyze it…What is his initial view of the
natives. What language develops this idea?
Diction…
 “I came upon a boiler wallowing in the grass,
then found a path leading up the hill. It
turned aside for the boulders, and also for an
undersized railway-truck lying there on its
back with its wheels in the air. One was off.
The thing looked as dead as the carcass of
some animal…”
 What image is created? What words develop
this image? What is the effect/purpose of
creating such an image?
In-Class work and HW for
10/5
 Read from page 33 bottom/19 top: “Instead of
going up, I turned and descended to the
left…” to end of part 1.
 Remember to read closely and thoughtfully,
annotating the book to facilitate your close
reading.
 Write responses to the following prompts in
your journal…develop responses fully,
reflecting insight into the text.
“Devils”
 Consider Marlow’s description of the “devils” he
has seen (34/19). What are the different types of
“devils” he describes? What seems to link these
“devils” and what separates them?
 Watch the text for other “devils”…
 the manager (40/25)
 The “faithless pilgrims” (44/27)
 The “manager’s spy” (45/28)/”papier-mache
Mephistopheles” (48/31)
 The “sordid buccaneers” of the Eldorado Exploring
Expedition (54/36)
Reread the description of
the chief accountant and
Marlow’s reaction to him
(36/21)
 “I shook hands with this miracle…I respected
the fellow. Yes; I respected his collars, his vast
cuffs, his brushed hair…”
 How are we to take Marlow? Why does he say
that he has a respect for the accountant?
What does this suggest about Marlow?
Copy the following quote into
your notes
 “In the steady buzz of flies the homeward-bound
agent was lying flushed and insensible; the
other, bent over his books, was making correct
entries of perfectly correct transactions; and
fifty feet below the doorstep I could see the still
tree-tops of the grove of death” (38/23).
 Now analyze it…what is going on and how does
the structure of this quote support the ideas
presented in the book so far?
Kurtz
 Although we have not met Kurtz yet, we have
been introduced to him. What do we know
about Kurtz, and what is Marlow’s impression
of him by the end of Part 1?
Self-Selected Sentence(s)
 Select a sentence(s) that stands out to you as
particularly artful for the use of language to
convey meaning. Explain why the line(s) is so
powerful and explore how Conrad’s use of
language creates an effect.
Narrative Present
 Reread page 50/32-33. How does the return to
the narrative present help shape the story
and Marlow’s view of Kurtz? How does the
unnamed narrator feel at this point in
Marlow’s narrative? Support with specifics.
10/6: Updated HW for Tuesday
 Read from where we left off on page 60/42 to
the paragraph on page 73/53 beginning “You
should have seen the pilgrims stare!”
 Answer the required three prompts on slides
19, 20, 21. The prompt on slide 18 is optional.
 Enjoy your weekend!
Copy the following quote
into your notes
 “The sun was low; and leaning forward side
by side, they seemed to be tugging painfully
uphill their two ridiculous shadows of unequal
length, that trailed behind them slowly over
the tall grass without bending a single blade”
(59/40-41).
 Now analyze it…how does this description
help us understand these two men?
Copy the following quote
into your notes
 “Trees, trees, millions of trees, massive,
immense, running up high; and at their foot,
hugging the bank against the stream, crept the
little begrimed steamboat, like a sluggish beetle
crawling on the floor of a lofty portico. It made
you feel very small, very lost, and yet it was not
altogether depressing that feeling” (61,43) .
Now analyze it…how does the diction and syntax
convey Marlow’s feeling?
Paraphrase the following
lines…
 “…And this stillness of life did not in the least
resemble a peace. It was the stillness of an
implacable force brooding over an inscrutable
intention” (60/41).
 What does the personification in these lines
contribute to the setting? How does Marlow
avoid “seeing” it?
Page 62/44
 “We were cut off from the comprehension of
our surroundings; we glided past like
phantoms, wondering and secretly appalled,
as sane men would be before an enthusiastic
outbreak in a madhouse. We could not
understand, because we were too far and
could not remember, because we were
travelling in the night of first ages, of those
ages that are gone, leaving hardly a sign –
and no memories.”
 How does this passage reflect the ideas about
“remote kinship”? What does Marlow mean?
 What is the source of Marlow’s feeling of
kinship with Kurtz?
 Why does Marlow observe that he has “at least a
choice of nightmares” (101/77)? Choice between?
 How does Marlow’s “friendship” with Kurtz
parallel Nick’s friendship with Gatsby?
 Why does Marlow remain “loyal” to Kurtz in
the end?
 Is it because Marlow believes Kurtz’s final
words are “an affirmation, a moral victory”
(114/88)? How are they such?
Reread “The Hollow Men” by
T.S. Eliot
 After reading Heart of Darkness, what do
you understand about the poem?
 What is the “shadow”?
 Explain how particular lines / structure
help develop overall meaning.
 - How does this poem reflect the ideas in
The Great Gatsby?
 Link your responses to questions 4 and 5 to
the “redeeming idea” (20/7) of the opening
pages of the book.
 Reread the opening pages from “when the
Romans first came here” to “What redeems it is
the idea…” (18-20/6-7).
 Connect this “idea” to the Intended’s “mature
capacity for fidelity, for belief, for suffering” (119/92)
and “the faith that was in her,…that great and
saving illusion” (121/94).
 Compare/contrast the African woman with
the Intended.
 What is significant in the way each are
described?
 African woman: 99, 100, 109 / 75, 76, 84
 Intended: 119-121 / 92-94
 What do they each signify? What purpose do
they serve in this novella?
Color
 White/black imagery: examine the usage of
color. When does it seem to fit the traditional
role of white=good and black=bad? When is it
reversed?
Marlow, as narrator
 What do you make of Marlow so far? Of the
opinions he shares, of his uncertainty, of his
tone?
Copy the following quote into your
notes
“The great wall of vegetation, an exuberant and
entangled mass of trunks, branches, leaves,
boughs, festoons, motionless in the
moonlight, was like a rioting invasion of
soundless life, a rolling wave of plants, piled
up, crested, ready to topple over the creek, to
sweep every little man of us out of his little
existence” (54/36).
Now analyze it…what is going on and how does
it support the ideas presented in the book?
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