March 22, 2018
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[He had tied a bit of white worsted round his neck—Why? Where did he get it? Was it a badge—an ornament—a charm—a propitiatory act? Was there any idea at all connected with it? It looked startling round his black neck, this bit of white thread from beyond the seas.]
Marlow seems unable to comprehend the combination of white and black. He desperately searches for some explanation as to why these two colors have come into contact. Interestingly enough, Marlow’s thoughts tend to to be more positive, he thinks the yarn is a charm, or even an act of sacrifice. something that the young man willingly wore around his neck.When I first read this part, I thought that the material and the placement were both important details to note. Immediately, I thought of a noose because the worsted style of yarn reminds me of the way rope looks and the fact that it was placed around the neck. I then thought that the yarn could be a collar, similar to the chains and shackles that the Africans were forced to wear. Ultimately, I think that the yarn (“from beyond the seas”) around his neck is symbolic of Europeans forcing Africans into slave positions.
It must have been a hard topic to write about. Imperialism and Colonialism is considered the great and Patriotic duty at the time, but Conrad is disillusioned by it. Is it really so grand to go force your culture upon people you view as lesser, when your own people are plagued by disease, heartache and greed?
Here Conrad presents Brussels, the capital of Belgium, as a “whited sepulchre.” The King of Belgium, Leopold, was the personal owner of what was known as the Belgian Congo, and a rapacious ruler, far beyond that of the other European powers. In the Bible in Matthew, Jesus calls the Pharasees white sepulchres, apparently clean, but filled with dead mens bones, unclean and rotten things; in a word calling them hypocrites. The Congo was used and the people used in the worst of ways, literally, as shown in Heart of Darkness. The colonization was not for the Congo, the White Man’s Burden was not to taken up, and the people were used in the worst possible ways.
[there she was, incomprehensible, firing into a continent]
This image is a good illustration of the futility theme associated with imperialism we say in Kipling’s “The White Man’s Burden.” The spectacle of a western warship firing its big guns “into a continent” evokes ludicrous associations and summons up existential qualities of human isolation and psychological projection. Imperialism itself is a projection of perspective and values, imposed upon an uncooperative world that resists the “idea” invoked by Marlowe in the opening chapters of the novel. Here the image of the ship “in the empty immensity of earth, sky, and water” summons up the idea of an oversized ego bent, fruitlessly, on making a reality of its projections.
I think the title Heart of Darkness has more layers of meaning today than just the Congo being the heart of Africa, and the heart of the imperialistic/moral struggles. I think this line is a good one to explore those layers in, as the words as very specific. Notice Marlow says “one of the dark places of the earth” not “darkest”. I believe this “dark” isn’t only literal and moral, but can also represent the modern stereotypical dilemma we face surrounding Africa via lack of information. The Western/American view of African is so one note–starving children, poor people, disease–because of our media’s propaganda. We are “in the dark” about how Africa really is, partly because of how widely perpetuated the stereotype is, and partly because it serves an agenda.
Marlow’s quick line breaks the silent illustration and thoughts of the primary narrator. Not only does this shift the storyteller, but it also offers a completely different point of view than the one being represented before. While the nameless narrator seems fond of London and the idea of imperialism,
Marlow seems to disagree as he reminds us of England at a time when it was not the place of “enlightened civilization.” Darkness is a huge symbol in this piece because it represents savagery and ignorance. If England, the best country on Earth, too, was once uncivilized, what, then, is civilization? Civilization is not inherent in “civilization” it must be brought into it.
In this section the narrator describes Kurtz’s moment of death as a tragic and magnificent event. Kurtz’s face was one a man may make only in his final moments. A face of immense knowledge and understanding only found in the final moments before death. His final declaration was immense in emotion and meaning. His utterance, “The horror! The horror!” in paragraph 154 illustrates how words, like life, only have as much importance as you have to place in them. We are not given a clear reason for this choice of words but in the narrator’s description we are led to believe Kurtz looked back on his life and that of those surrounding him and was horrified by what he saw. His words seems to be filled with terror but also great sadness and joy. His life seemed to be laid out before him like a book. Each event leading up to the great and terrible conclusion. And in seeing his story, he may see great mistakes and triumphs to be learned and understood more clearly in the moment when it ends. In viewing this moment where Kurtz steps past the line dividing life and death, the narrator is offered a small bit of knowledge about what comes after life and is also offered a small bit of hope that comes with the uncertainty of a question left unanswered.
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April 5, 2018 at 2:29 pm
See in context
April 5, 2018 at 1:42 pm
April 5, 2018 at 12:15 pm
April 3, 2018 at 2:46 pm
April 3, 2018 at 2:27 pm
April 3, 2018 at 10:41 am
March 31, 2018 at 8:25 pm
April 27, 2018 at 2:08 pm
This poem emphasizes the cyclical qualities of life. This stanza acknowledges the transition from the innocence of youth into a complicated older society. It demonstrates how happiness and youth are fleeting. In the previous stanza we are told about a carefree old man. He demonstrates how in our old age we might return to the same wonderous joy of youth. Although the elderly might posess this same happy disposition, the still carry wisdom and pain with the memories of a complicated life. Many reminisce about the simplicity of being a young girl or boy where everything is exciting and new. It takes a realist perspective where, “The sun does descend,/And our sports have an end.” This poem demonstrates how neither happiness nor sorrow are permanent afflictions. The cycle continues with no true end in sight.
April 27, 2018 at 1:58 pm
In the final stanza we see that, while the narrator doesn’t truly move to the Lake Isle of Innisfree, he takes the isle with him in his thoughts, memory, and temperament. He is expressing how he will take refuge in his memory of the isle in order to live amongst society while embracing a feeling of peace and connection with nature. Even, “While [he stands] on the roadway, or on the pavements grey”, he is able to connect with the Isle in his , “deep heart’s core” and in his soul. This is a form of escapism, while he still allows himself to be somewhat entrapped by a materialistic society. He gives in to most social conventions while holding on to romantic ideals.
April 27, 2018 at 1:48 pm
This poem reminds me of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden. The narrator desires to escape from society by living alone in nature. This is likely in response to an increasingly industrialized society. He glorifies nature and it’s peaceful qualities by describing the Lake of Innisfree with a natural supernaturalist perspective. This sort of ideal is expressed often throughout the arts and can be described as a romantic perspective.
April 26, 2018 at 1:51 pm
The final stanza in Dover beach is provoking in that Arnold speaks to lover about a dark and unhappy world. His is a realists perspective, likely in light of a declining faith in humanity and religion. This is a time, “Where ignorant armies clash by night”. In the dawn of industrialization conflict seems prevalent as society becomes materialistic. At this time society was fighting unaware over materialistic, and capitalistic reasons. Arnold has lost faith in humanity and struggles to move past, “The eternal note of sadness”. His is a romantic perspective where he looks at war, materialism, industrialization, and capitalism, as a true decline in humanity with no end in sight.
April 24, 2018 at 11:45 am
This poem exemplifies the transcendent ideals of writers in this period. “I’m happiest when most away” followed by, “I can bear my soul from its home of clay” suggests that the author finds happiness in spirit. She desires a freedom that comes with escaping the physical world before her. The, “home of clay” she speaks of is likely her physical body. In some religions a deity creates humans with clay. This poem is likely demonstrating escapism where the author would enjoy escaping reality if only in spirit. This is likely a response to industrialization which tends to strengthen attachment to the physical/material aspects of society.
April 24, 2018 at 12:13 am
Yes, definitely hearing your lover tell you they love you while meaning it is beautiful to the soul. Sometimes, though, feeling it is more important. The passionate intensity throughout the whole poem shows that she does need to hear it more than feel it. It soothes the soul to hear your lover telling you how they love you.
April 24, 2018 at 12:02 am
The forbidden fruit is indeed strong throughout the whole of the poem, I wholeheartedly agree. It seems that Laura is full of curiosity, but is that on the whole wrong? I think Lizzie’s warnings are what made Laura curious; a lot like the parent telling the teenager not to do something which in tern makes the teenager even MORE inclined to do it.
April 23, 2018 at 10:54 pm
This whole poem brings to mind an ending, as in a changing of the season; possibly a spring straight into winter. There is a loss and isolation feel to it, especially at the mention of Danae. I do love winter and I know now everyone does, which is why to me this feels like he’s writing about an ending of a beautiful spring.
April 23, 2018 at 9:52 pm
There are two phrases that stand out to me in this: train-oil breath and petitionary growl. I have no idea why, but the first thing that came to my mind is world weariness. Carlyle is excellently descriptive about this Hyperborean Bear, this Russian Smuggler. Carlyle is trying to explain to him that he is absolutely not interested and who can blame him? It’s only after he shows the Russian his pistols that the Russian backs off. An everlasting no? If the pistols hadn’t dissuaded him, Carlyle might have been involved in a Duel, which is not something he wanted.
April 23, 2018 at 8:54 pm
I, too, thought war when I read this. The hope he shows until the stanza you mentioned was palpable, but so is his despair.
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