Impressionism and Heart of Darkness

Impressionism and
Heart of Darkness
AP Literature and
Berthoud High School
 “Impressionism”
coined in 1874 by a
journalist, Louis Leroy, in an attempt
to ridicule Monet’s Impression:
Sunrise and other poems on display
in the Paris Salon.
 “They are Impressionists in the
sense that they reproduce not the
landscape but the sensory
perceptions it evokes.”
Check Out This Painting!
What is your initial response to the
image? What is this a painting of?
When viewing this painting, how do
you feel? What draws your eye?
Monet, Haystacks
Photograph of haystacks in the field
How does this alter your
response to the painting?
How are they different?
Patterns and themes
 Landscapes
and cityscapes
 Focus on haze, mist, effects of light
 Shimmering light, air
 Portrayal of everyday modern life:
ballet, cafes, leisure activities on the
banks of the Seine
Look for said patterns here:
Renoir, The Canoeists’ Luncheon
…and here:
Monet, Westminster on the Thames
Changing the narrative
In impressionism, the paintings
seldom tell stories (as opposed to
more traditional schools in which a
definitive narrative was captured
within the painting)
Instead, they capture moments,
David, Andromache Mourning Hector
Renoir, Moulin de la Galette
“When the emphasis is on the
individual’s own perception and the
object is to depict what the eye sees
rather than what the head knows,
everything suddenly becomes worthy
of being the subject of a work of art
– clouds of smoke in a station, a
garden flooded with light, boating on
the River Seine, a boulevard full of
people, or a snow-covered field.”
What is the subject of this painting?
What draws your eye?
Monet, La Gare Saint-Lazare
“For the passionate observer, it is an
enormous pleasure to dwell among
the masses, in the ebb and flow, in
the movement, in the fleeting and
~ Charles Baudelaire
“Nature is always the
same, but of its visible
appearance nothing
remains constant.
Our art must give it
the sublime attribute
of permanence, along
with the elements and
appearance of all its
changes. Art must
give it eternity in our
imagination. What is
behind Nature?
Nothing, perhaps.
Perhaps everything.
~ Paul Cezanne
Anecdotal quotes
 Manet
to Monet: Monet, you’re a
friend of Renoir’s. Why don’t you
advise him to take up a different
career? You can see for yourself that
he’s not cut out for painting.
 Monet, on his critics: “Poor blind
idiots. They want to see everything
clearly, even through the fog!”
How do the
principles of
transfer into
 In
one way or another, all
Impressionists made it their aim to
give a pictorial equivalent of the
visual sensations of a particular
individual at a particular time and
place. ~ Ian Watt
 Conrad:
art depends, for its success,
on an impression conveyed through
the senses
Stylistic/Narrative Elements in
Heart of Darkness:
Duplication of narrators: places
emphasis on perception; makes you
look through a glass, darkly
Symbolist: the symbols in the novel
change both in scale and meaning
Impressionist: still lots to say about
this part…
More Elements in
Heart of Darkness:
Frequent use of mist or haze
 Primary narrator warns us that Marlow’s
tale will not be centered on, but
surrounded by its meaning.
 One inherent argument in impressionism
is that individual sensation is the only
reliable source of ascertainable truth.
 Conrad employs SUBJECTIVE MORAL
Navigating through the “fog”
 Heart
of Darkness embodies
uncertainty and doubt.
 It is an exploration of what men
cannot know.
 Reality is essentially private and
 Another way of seeing: the fog does
not obstruct the subject or the
meaning; it is an intrinsic part OF the
Delayed Decoding
 Combines
the forward temporal
progression of the mind, as it
receives messages from the outside
world, with the much slower reflexive
process of making out their meaning.
Ummm, in English, please?...
Delayed Decoding
 Conrad
presents a sense impression
but withholds naming it or explaining
its meaning until later; as readers we
witness every step by which the gap
between the individual perception
and its cause is belatedly closed
within the consciousness of the
Relationship Between
Impressionism and Narrative
Virginia Woolf: “Life is not a series of gig
lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a
luminous halo, a semi-transparent
envelope surrounding us from the
beginning of consciousness to the end.”
 “The essence of the action is a process of
expanded moral awareness.” ~ Watt
 Be sensitive to the metaphorical
implications of light and darkness in the