Heart Of Darkness By Conrad Author: Joseph Conrad Setting: The storyteller, Charlie Marlow, sits on the deck of the Nellie recanting his journey to the Congo and his perception and encounter with Kurtz and Kurtz’s intended. Plot: The telling of a remarkable horror tale to the inner darkness of man, Kurtz/Marlow, and the center of the earth, the Congo. Charlie Marlow gives the accounts of the double journey to the passengers on the deck of the Nellie as she is held still by the tides. Key Characters Charlie Marlow “Deviant” [narrator (Conrad) to the reader 1] We are given a visual picture of a ship, the Nellie, going out to sea on the Thames. The narrator describes the Director of Companies, like a pilot; the lawyer, by his possessions; an accountant, by his action of bringing out dominoes. But when the narrator describes Marlow he distinguishes him with a name and a physical description.
The narrator seems to idolize this man, Marlow. Just the same way Marlow idolizes Kurtz. Marlow is physical posture symbolizes Buddha. Marlow is different from the rest of the passengers. Quote: ‘He had sunken cheeks, a yellow complexion, a straight back, an ascetic aspect, and, with his arms dropped, the palms of hands outwards, resembled an idol.’ “Architect” [narrator (Conrad) to the reader 3] The reader has been told of the Nellie going down the Thames to the center of the earth, but the ship has stalled or held back by the tides.
This makes the passengers prisoners of the tale that is about to unfold from Marlow’s lips. This compares with Rime of the Ancient Mariner, in that the mariner mesmerized the wedding guest with his inner journey on the outer seas. Charlie Marlow is inspired by the darkness of the surrounding ships of war to recant his journey to the Congo. The narrator says that most seamen have simply stories, but not Marlow. Marlow’s tales are like the way a Russian nesting doll works, open the doll and there is another doll inside.
The meaning and the characters are in the surrounding layers of the intended destination, Kurtz and the Congo. This gives us the structure of Marlow’s story telling-his legacy. Quote: ‘But Marlow was not typical (if his propensity to spin yarns be expected), and to him the meaning of an episode was not inside like a kernel but outside, enveloping the tale..’ “Visionary” [Marlow to passengers of the Nellie 3] The narrator is telling of the past travelers of the Thames ‘the dark “interlopers” of Eastern trade, and the commissioned “generals” of East India fleets’. Fortune seekers and conquerors of times before are related to the ivory trading and powering over the natives of the Congo. The sun is setting the reference of the coming of a dark tainted journey. Speaking of the Thames, Marlow calls it only one of the dark places. He is giving an introduction to his tale of the Congo. The vision of the Thames as one of the dark places is that in the end the dark shadow of Kurtz still follows him even to Kurtz’s intended’s place through the lie of Kurtz’s last words, her name.
Quote: ‘”And this also,” said Marlow suddenly, “has been one of the dark places of the earth.”‘ “Loner” [narrator to reader 3] Marlow has just spoken about the Thames-one of the places of darkness. Just as the ancient mariner was destined to take his fateful journey alone so is Marlow. Marlow journeys into himself and wanders the sea unlike the other seamen who have land bound homes. Quote: ‘He was the only man of us who still “followed the sea.”‘ “Rebel” [narrator to the reader 4] Marlow is telling the passengers to comprehend the journey of a young Rome conquer garbed in only a toga pushing inland to the savagery of the center. Parallel to Marlow’s journey to the Congo armed with only his good moral intentions of bettering the natives. Marlow is preaching to the passengers, but is in a meditative position.
His English dress and Buddha demeanor conflict in a rebellious state of contrast with their perspective norms. Quote: ‘he had the pose of a Buddha preaching in European clothes and without a lotus flower’ “Avant-garde” [Marlow to the passengers of the Nellie 6] Marlow since his youth wanted to explore the uncharted land of the Congo. When younger the map had nothing on it, but now there was the snake of the river that had charmed him. Conrad is paralleled with Marlow in his dream to be a seaman. Marlow had at first tried to secure a job on a ship to the Congo on his own but was unsuccessful. He had always done things on his own power and merit.
Now, for the first time in his life he had to recruit the women to influence a certain trading society to get the job he so desperately wanted. He calls upon his aunt who does his bidding. Quote: ‘I, Charlie Marlow, set the women to work-to get a job.’ “Conformist” [Marlow to the passengers of the Nellie 23] Marlow is at the central station. The brickmaker is giving him some insight into Kurtz. The brickmaker, who doesn’t make bricks, is inadvertently telling Marlow that the manager is trying to rid himself of Kurtz by neglecting him. The manager fears that Kurtz’s would steal his job, because of Kurtz’s gifted talent of acquiring ivory.
Marlow only has an ideal of Kurtz, like a sort of religion set around the image. Marlow has been engulfed by the worship of Kurtz that he would lie for him. Quote: ‘I would not have gone so far as to fight for Kurtz, but I went for him near enough to a lie.’ “Judge” [Marlow to passengers on the Nellie 23] Marlow doesn’t actually lie to the brickmaker he just lets him believe what he wants in regards to the influence that brought Marlow there to save Kurtz. Marlow judges a lie to be appalling. Ironically, at the end of the novel Marlow lies to Kurtz’s intended to spare her feelings and he believes Kurtz to have wanted it that way.
Marlow is judging the lie and his future actions. Quote: ‘you know I hate, detest, and can’t bear a lie, not because I am straighter than the rest of us, but simply because it appalls me.’ “Critic” [Marlow to the passengers of the Nellie 46] Marlow’s helmsman has died in the attack on the steamer. Marlow feels that if the helmsman hadn’t opened the shutter and panicked by shooting out at the bush he would still be alive. Marlow compares the helmsman with Kurtz in the way he was unable to fight off the engulfing darkness of greed. The helmsman showed none of the restraint in the situation that he had shown in his control of cannibal hungry.
Quote: ‘He had no restraint, no restraint-just like Kurtz.’ “Caregiver” [Marlow to the passengers of the Nellie 46] Marlow is describing Kurtz after the death of the helmsman. Marlow can’t express that Kurtz is worth the blood spilled on his shoes. Marlow humanizes the helmsman, who is a native, when he says that they had a bond. He took care of the helmsman by guarding his back while the helmsman steered for him. Marlow gives the helmsman an English dignity with a seaman type burial to prevent the ravaging of his body for food.
Quote: ‘He steered for me-I had to look after him.’ “Director” [Marlow to passengers of the Nellie 47] The helmsman’s death has sparked talk among the cannibals of eating his remains. Marlow feels that by keeping the body it will only lower the restraint of the crew. He takes control of the situation by throwing the body over the side of the boat. He is thought to be heartless in this act, but truly he is preserving the dignity of the helmsman and the control of the ship’s crew. The volatile situation of fighting for the remains is neutralized as it is enveloped in the river. Quote: ‘He had been a very second-rate helmsman while alive, but now he was dead he might have become a first-class temptation, and possibly cause startling trouble.’ “Jester” [Marlow to red-haired pilgrim 47] The red-haired pilgrim said that they must have made a slaughter in the bush. Basically all the man did was shoot aimlessly at the tops of the trees.
The man is boosting and Marlow makes a joke of the man’s ignorant pride. The only thing they accomplished was to make a smoke screen over the river. Quote: ‘You made a glorious lot of smoke, anyhow.’ “Dreamer” [Marlow to the passengers of the Nellie 51] Marlow has made if to Kurtz’s camp, and has met the Russian who’s encampment he found earlier. At the campsite Marlow believes the man to be English because he mistakes the Russian alphabet for cipher. There was also a warning write to be careful from this point on. Marlow is listening to the Russian describing Kurtz, when the jungle draws him away from the current reality, the story and that moment in the story.
The jungle is sucking him into the loneliness and darkness. Marlow is feeling a moment of weakness, which is why he is spiritually lifted out of that moment in time to the dark recesses of the jungle heart. Quote: ‘I looked around, and I don’t know why, but I assure you that never, never before did this land, this river, this jungle, the very arch of this blazing sky, appear to me so hopeless and so dark, so impenetrable to human thought, so pitiless to human weakness.’ “Fanatic” [Marlow to passengers of the Nellie 53] Marlow has discovered that the fence he thought encircled Kurtz’s camp is not a fence at all, but heads on stakes. This realization makes Marlow entranced with them. He is fixated on there appearance and goes into grave detail.
Quote: ‘I returned deliberately to the first I had seen-‘ Kurtz “Deviant” [Brickmaker to Marlow 22] Marlow is speaking with the brickmaker of the central station. The brick maker has a painting of a woman draped and blindfolded carrying a lighted torch. Marlow inquires about the painting and is told Kurtz painted the somber picture. Marlow wants to know who Kurtz is. ‘Chief of the inner station’ replies the brickmaker. Marlow wants more so e is sarcastic with the man ‘you are the brickmaker’.
The brickmaker must concede that Kurtz is and extraordinary man, not just a si …