This is a course blog for the members of EH236 at the University of South Alabama, Spring 2006.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Kafka Extra Credit assignment

Franz Kafka was born in 1883 the son of a middle class Jewish family in Prague. At the request of his father, Kafka received a German education. Franz spoke Czech as a child but mastered the German language. In June 1906 he graduated from Charles Ferdinand University with a doctorate in law. Kafka sustained a civil "day job" during his adult years while writing in his spare time. Kafka suffered with anxiety and depression perhaps rooting from his feelings of inferiority and parental separation as a child. Many of Kafka’s works represent these feelings expressed as loneliness, frustration and guilt. Kafka was born a Jew and remained a Jew his entire life, many of his works also reflect a hidden Jewish theme as well. Such as in "Josephine the singer, or the mouse folk." In attempt to keep his works more universal and inclusive Kafka also made reference to the Christians as well. "The feelings of alienation, being an outsider, and knowing that your life is subject to forces beyond your control, as well as a sense of dogged survival, frequently associated with the Jewish sensibility and which all frequently crop up in Kafka's work would prove to be among the most widespread and common feelings among people of all religions and races in the uncertain 20th century." Kafka contracted tuberculosis in 1917 and died in a sanatorium, on June 3, 1924. Although his life was cut short his stories will live on forever.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Free MLA bibliography composer

For anybody who dislikes rounding up all of the sources cited in a paper... let me suggest using Easy Bib. I have used this site for several years and it saves a good deal of time. You can get it free here

MLA feature is 100% free. However, APA is not.

Monday, April 10, 2006






Throughout the year, the class has read and discussed several pieces of literature from all over the world, ranging every where from the eighteenth to twentieth centuries. These stories have covered everything from informative articles, adventurous tales, autobiographies, to dramatic novels, and seemingly everywhere in-between. Each story has proven its place in history as well as there authors’, and will undoubtedly continue to be discussed for several years to come. Of course, one will not favor every story as much as they may another, but the favored ones in return, will not always hold the same emotional affect as the other to the reaeder. It also seems that if the reader takes the time to read a story over more than once, he or she will realize how that writing is capable of touching them in different ways each time they read it. Out of the several stories we have read in class throughout the semester, two in particular that have in fact had this affect on myself would include Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s “Faust” and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly’s “Frankenstein”.
Each of these masterpieces are revered as much today (if not more) as they were all those years ago when they were first published for the public to set their eyes as well as their minds upon. Both of these pieces of work were in fact written around the same time and each have several likenesses as well as many differences from one another. Other than the title, these two literary accomplishments also share a writing style from two authors from the same part of the world. While they were not published in the same area of the world the two writers, having a similar geographical background, could easily attribute to their styles of writing.
A very noticeable as well as interesting aspect that these two stories share, is the presence of the art of science. Both Shelley and Goethe have deeply implanted this feature in their stories. Without this, there would in fact be no story in either case. If somehow a story with the same title did still exist, it would not be the same magnificent one that we read today nor could it at all, in either case hold the same meaning. This is so deeply imbedded, so crucial for the existence of both stories, that it is too hard to imagine how (if at all) either could exist without it. In both stories the main characters are betrayed as highly renowned scientists or scholars. Goethe and Shelley have equally made their characters so obsessed with their studies, so bored of what has already been accomplished by other scholars of their time, so extremely ahead of everyone who surrounds them, that they resort to the most mythical, horrific, demonic, never before heard of, extraordinary course of actions that could be imagined. In Faust’s case, the reader sees a man who no longer sees any value to life, no beauty in the world. This as well as other events have led to his prying into another field of study; magic. In the instance of Frankenstein one reads of someone who is so obsessively determined of reaching higher grounds (an extent so high to be considered maniacal) in the field of science. While the route in which these two characters take is different, both authors have used these chosen paths to stand for a certain goal; ultimate power and godlike abilities!
The presence of religion was much more in play in the case of “Faust”. While mention was made in “Frankenstein” at certain intervals, this novel was more Victorianistic: seeing nature as more of the cause for much around ones self compared to a higher power such as God. These qualities (reiligion and nature) prove to play as significant a role in these two stories as does the great art of science. The ever present views of Gods, daemons, angels, and devils in “Faust” all play cause towards the persuasion and decisions of the main character. After some brief research into the personal beliefs or religion of Goethe, i have learned that the view of religion does not play half the role in Goethe’s personal life than it does in that of his fictional character Faust’s. A well known quote of Goethe states:
Much there is I can stand. Most things not easy to suffer
I bear with quiet resolve, just as a God commands it.
Only a few things I find as repugnant as snakes and poison,
These four: tobacco smoke, bedbugs and garlic and Christ.
Yes this quote shows only his view towards the religious figure of Christ, but as I have read, during the latter part of the year the same could be said of any other significant religious leader of different belief. The reason I have chosen to list this, is to express why it is I find the dedicated use of religion in this story so intriguing. Apart from his own views, a creation is formed with such a strong belief of higher being that in m eyes seems even the more greater coming from the mind of one who himself has know emotional attachment of any kind that in any way relates. While this may in fact not be that difficult in the least to achieve for one such as Goethe, I can’t help but see such a feat anything other than mesmerizing.
Where Goethe leaves off with religious or spiritual importance to his plot, Shelley makes up for in Family ties. The gravity that Shelley puts into the existence of family relations in Frankenstein is much like that of the spiritual view of “Faust”. Neither of the two are more captivating than the other; to compare the two is not done to show which one out weighs the other, but serves more as an observation of what and how these two authors put these articles into play. If one was to examine these two features, it is possible that a hypothesis could be raised stating that these articles represent the same meaning or importance for these two characters only expressed in different ways. I thought that now would be an ample time to list examples of each but it seems that “the spirit has promted me(Faust 56)” much as it did Faust, and I have chosen to go another route. Just to make it short, (and I ask now as I am not sure if it is something that this {sudden outbreak} does not work against me in the affect of the formal writing expectations of this paper) I had planned to make mention of how, at one point Faust was wrapped up in the new testament wanting to revise what he felt right (“I confidently write: ‘In the beginning was the Deed!) as well as quote some of the sentimentally expressed letters written back and forth between Elizabeth, Victor, his father, and how in my mind they seem to relate. So, instead of creating such examples I will put it more into my words
Yes, spirituality and family are two different things, but are they? In this case I argue that they are in fact not! Does mysticism not hold the same extreme level of lustful necessity to Faust as family (specifically in his earlier years) does to Frankenstein? Do Goethe and Shelley not use these two incredible themes to such a magnitude that they have become parallels of one another: as if in a different light but with the same bulb giving that light? Does a reader not feel what (as created by these indescribable writers) affect these parallels mean to each story and how they seem to precisely have the same feel? These questions are what have leaded me to conscientiously conclude that, as I have stated, these two are the same. One would be highly mistaken to believe that everything ends there, because in fact that is no more than just a taste.
In my eyes Goethe and Shelley both have embedded another emotion rising factor in their papers: That being, the presence of one hell of a devilish atmosphere. A reader can plainly see that Faust and his calling upon a demon for his desires as well as Frankenstein’s resorting to experimentations that, at least up until this point in time on top of the basis of belief from other men and women of science (so to say) right minded or ordinary people were devilish acts. To make note of course, one could see how this holds weight to the raised atmospheric conditions comparison. Why is it that both of these author’s have chosen to take this darker approach? Well, for starters it has to do with their writing styles which are of course created by their personalities as well as imaginations. I feel it is also due to their extreme writing experience and how each are aware that by using this darker side, what feeling this will arise in the reader, and how unbelievably fit this emotion is for what they are trying to create. Without this dark side would either story exist? Of course not! How in God’s name would the creation of a man made being or a gentleman with the urge to call upon a higher power for his own benefit, have been possible without this effect? These queries are easily put into their respectable place. The fact, being which I have described why I feel the writers have used this dark touch is the unattested reason of why I enjoy this so ideally placed touch.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Heart of Darkness

The method Conrad uses to deploy his elegant narrative is essential to understand the relationship between Kurtz, Europe, and Africa. In order to grasp Marlow's character and opinions, it is important to understand one important factor about Marlow himself. Marlow is a man who is accepted in an ambiguous haze; his ability to fit into more than one level of society is necessary to relate the story and make the reader better understand the true meaning of “Heart of Darkness”.

Throughout Heart of Darkness, the functionality of “things” being in their place is very important. The constraints placed on class mobility throughout the story make it vital for Marlow to be socially transparent. His ability to float between classes is his most powerful narrative tool. This quality is also essential for Marlow to relate Kurtz with both Africa and Europe. Instead of telling the story from one perspective, Marlow's story embodies the perspective of all the different characters (However, Marlow seems to be searching for the reason behind many of these characters motivations for being in Africa, and he seems to fall short of completely pinpointing underlying motives). Through the description of these characters we can begin to see the haunting relationship they all possess. The accountant, General manager, Brick-maker, and the managers uncle all possess the bureaucratic persona that relate directly to the Belgian company. Kurtz on the other hand is Europe's finest. Skilled in many different forms of intellectual abilities, he is a man who is sure to rise up the ranks of the bureaucratic ladder. Unlike the other bureaucrats, Kurtz has a mission and a clear path to fame and glory back in Europe. This quality alone sets him above the lesser men who hold imperialism as a helpful and noble cause. It is worth noting the way Marlow describes several of the less important characters. When Marlow encounters the brick maker, he makes the observation that very few bricks seem to be being made. Marlow then cites the brick makers lack of progress for want of materials. This example found in a minor character describes the presence of many of the more ambitious characters such as the pilgrims. Very few men who flocked to the heart of Africa know little more about their motives than Marlow himself. One could also argue that Marlow is uncertain of his own motivations for venturing to Africa. The depiction of the “colonialist” is full of veiled morals and uncertain ideals. They know little about themselves and seem to be wading chest deep in a dark haze that is sure to send them back broken men (if at all!). The “hollow” men are simply an extension of the imperialist hand that extends from above. In Conrad's Congo there are malignant reactions for apparent benign causes. It is also filled with tedious task who's sole purpose is to keep the horrors hidden beneath a facade of humanitarian ideals. The separation of ideals and motives are more important in regards to the comparison between the general manager and Kurtz. While Kurtz is a man who possesses a refined and graceful intellect, the General Manager possesses little quality besides the ability to make his listener feel uneasy. Combined with his ability to evade disease, the general manager is the perfect parasite to feed on the horrors of imperialism. The “darkness” unknowingly spread to Africa within the hearts of the Europeans.


The idea of restrain is a redundant theme that is vital to the success of Marlow's journey and return (the mere fact he returned merits success). It is due to the other characters lack of restraint that alludes to their destruction. The helmsman, pilgrims, the managers uncle, and Kurtz himself all exercise a devout lack of restraint throughout the journey. It is in the face of adversity and terror that restraint lends its greatest fortitude and can be the balance that one needs in order to keep is head in times of madness. Sadly, this was not a trait that the talented Kurtz possessed. He was the ruin of an age, the beacon that was covered up by a dark haze never to be seen again, only his memory will remain and it will remain not as a success but as a warning for overreaching individuals.

Monday, March 27, 2006

The Heart of Darkness

Marlow and Kurtz, Europe, and Africa
In The Heart of Darkness Marlow tells the story of his journey to Africa down the Congo River. As he relates his story to his fellow shipmates, the reader is presented with his many ideas on the characters, ideas, and settings. Marlow really works to establish a relationship between Kurtz, Europe, and Africa.
In the tale, Kurtz is the embodiment of European ideals. When describing Kurtz and how his mother is half-English and his father was half-French, he says, “All of Europe contributed to the making of Kurtz…” He is well-educated and can write with “unbounded power of eloquence.” The brick-maker says, “He is a prodigy. He is an emissary of pity, and science, and devil knows what else.” Marlow says that Kurtz is a member of the International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs, and he says that this is the reason that Kurtz writes his convincing pamphlet. He is a model of progress, being successful both with the natives and with collecting ivory. As Marlow comes closer to him, however, he learns the dark truth about Kurtz and his “progress.”
Marlow collectively portrays Europe in the tale. He often portrays it negatively, such as in the beginning when he says of the west, only the gloom to the west, brooding over the upper reaches became more somber every minute, as if angered by the approach of the sun.” In the beginning, he also compares Europe to Africa. He says that Europe was once like Africa until the Romans were “man enough to face the darkness.” He also adds that the people of the company, however, were not colonists but conquerors urged on by what he calls “the squeeze.” He says of them, “they grabbed what they could get for the sake of what was to be got. Another way Marlow describes Europe is as a white sepulcher, like Jesus said of the Pharisees, outwardly beautiful, but inwardly full of dead men’s bones. After his journey up the Congo, he returns to the white sepulcher, and does not feel that he fits in with the rest of society any longer.
The third thing that Marlow works to establish in the tale is the African setting. He says that as a child he wished to go to the unnamed places on the map. One of those was Africa, and he says of it now, “It had become a place of darkness.” He says that it is the Congo River, winding its way into Africa like a snake that draws him. He says, “The snake charmed me.” This story is comparative to that of Adam and Eve, when Eve was tempted by the serpent. As Marlow travels, he realizes how much darkness there is in the jungle and in the hearts of men. He discovers Kurtz and the dark truth when he reaches the Inner Station.
As Marlow continues on his journey, he learns a great deal not only about Africa but also about the human condition. He understands that though Kurtz has went too far, he is in many ways like or “kin to” Kurtz. He realizes how dark men’s hearts can be, and the problems with what was called the progress of the day. Through all of this, Marlow finally comes to understand why Kurtz’s last words were, “the horror, the horror!”
~Deniese Willard

Kurtz, Europe, and Africa

When reading through Heart of Darkness, two statements stuck out. When referring to Kurtz’s parents, Marlow says “All of Europe contributed to the making of Kurtz.” Marlow also says, referring to Kurtz, “Everything belonged to him but that was a trifle. The thing was to know what he belonged to, how many powers of darkness claimed him for their own.” In a way these two statements sum up Marlow’s view of the connection between Kurtz, Europe, and Africa. Marlow is the creation of Europe. He is their messenger, their representative. More than that, he is their collector. He came to Europe with “his generous mind…his noble heart” and the righteousness of the European Idea: that Europeans were in Africa to bring civilization to the natives. They are the great helping the weak. Kurtz says in his pamphlet “we approach them with the might of a deity.” Kurtz only sees all the possessions he has gained in Africa, and in that way he is blind. He does not see that Africa, with its darkness, had taken possession of him. In this way all of Europe is blind. They do not see the power of the darkness, of this ancient land. Marlow says “the silent wilderness surrounding this cleared speck on earth struck me as something great and invincible, like evil or truth, waiting patiently for the passing away of this fantastic invasion.” The Europeans are there to concur something that is bigger than them, something they cannot even truly comprehend. Africa is the true great power. But, as I said, Europe cannot see this, and so they are willing to sacrifice Kurtz – its creation, who was once such a wonderful man - for its “idea”- for money, for trade, for progress.

The significance of Kurtz

In Josef Conrad's "The Heart of Darkness" we are presented with an ironic tale of one man's journey into the interior of Africa and the corruption he discovers there.
Our central character Marlow is an experienced seaman with a driving force of intrepidness rather than just a man seeking profit. We are told the story by one of Marlow's fellow seaman as it was told to him by Marlow as they waited on the tide in the Thames river. This is were we receive our first hint of irony in the way Marlow describes the western habit of robbing natives of different lands and cultures of their freedom and resources under the guise of enlightenment. As Marlow continues the yarn he uses vivid imagery to convey the feeling of death and corruption at the operation's head quarters in London. This foreshadowing is central to the idea of the story. When Marlow arrives in Africa he notices first the absurdity and cruelty as he watches a French ship firing cannons into the continent supposedly at the "enemies" which are the natives. These kind of incidences occur often as he describes the cruelty with which the Africans are treated. The chain-gang, the grove of death and etc. are all examples by which this message of contradiction and cruelty are conveyed to the reader. Marlow is intrigued by a man named Kurtz who resides in the interior and is referred to as the companies top collection agent of ivory. There are many mixed emotions about Kurtz, some men fear him, some are jealous of him,and yet others admire him. Yet no-one can deny his effectiveness at acquiring ivory and this leads Marlow to believe him to be a truly remarkable man. As the story continues we realize that the steamboat "rescue" of Kurtz was sabotaged and as Marlow waits on his steamer to be repaired he describes the management and their attitudes and his disdain for both. When Marlow finally reaches Kurtz the realization of the story all comes together. Kurtz represents the west or Europe and its presence in Africa. In an attempt to set an example Kurtz has become the embodiment of colonization and all the ills that come along with it. His heart has become so dark from the corruption, murder, theft, and terrible mistreatment of the natives. These are the effects of the "big squeeze" our author refers to when describing colonization and all the ills that come along with it. In the story Kurtz represents all the things that were admired by western civilization: Intrepidness, Boldness, Conviction, Eloquence, Tenacity. All of these attributes were corrupted and Kurtz became a brutal monster or a manifestation of all the ills caused by this false enlightenment which was not driven by ideals only pure greed or the heart of darkness. Kurtz represented what the colonizers had all become, just glorified plunderers and pirates. These were the effects on a mans soul when it is driven by such a contradiction as this false enlightenment.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Conrad: Heart of Darkness

In Conrad's "Heart of Darkness," Marlow discovers that Europe, Africa, and Kurtz all relate to each other in some way. Through Conrad's novella, we learn about Kurtz through the eyes of Marlow and that he represents all of Europe. It states in this novella that "All of Europe contributed to the making of Kurtz." This quote was implying that because Kurtz's mother was French and his father was English, many different parts of Europe contributed to his making. Marlow notices this unique aspect of Kurtz's heritage and is able to conclude that Kurtz, Europe, and Africa are all related. Africa is related to Kurtz and his European upbringing in that fact that Kurtz is in Africa working for the Company to make money. Kurtz was the Company's only hope for making money in Africa. The slaves looked at Kurtz like he was a God-like figure and were all afraid of him because he would either kill them or enslave them if they did not agree to work for the Company. While Kurtz was working for the Company, Europe believed that the Company was there to enlighten the natives and teach them about civilization; however, that was not the case at all. Kurtz and the company use the slaves to their advantage to make money. Between the harsh and unjust treatment of the "criminals" and the wrong impression Europe is under, Kurtz in the end becomes exactly what the company represented. He realizes this as he is dying when he looks out the window in disgust at everything that is going on. There is also a reference to this in the novella on page 84 when Kurtz asks Marlow to "close the shutters." This is implying that Kurtz does not want to see the "horror" outside as he realizes what he has become.

Friday, March 24, 2006

Conrad's "Heart of Darkness"

How does Marlow understand the relation between Kurtz, Europe, and Africa? In Marlow’s point of view, “all of Europe contributed to the making of Kurtz.” But he also says referring to Kurtz, “I looked at him as you peer down at a man who is lying at the bottom of a precipice where the sun never shines.” I think these two quotes are important because they describe exactly what Marlow thinks of Kurtz, no matter how many times he is convinced otherwise or disillusioned into believing something else.

Marlow points out that “all of Europe contributed to the making of Kurtz,” in the literal sense that his parents were of Europe but different countries. The phrase, “the making of” sounds like the description of an object, not a human being. Similar to the way that Marlow describes the Africans he sees slaving over the company’s work. To sum up my thoughts, this quote describes Kurtz like an object that Europe created. So Kurtz is Europe’s creation, who is sent or chooses to go to Africa to pursue this business of harvesting ivory. He is praised by all in the company mainly because it’s a business and Kurtz is a good business man, he gets the job done. The company’s goal is not to enlighten Africa, as some characters claim, but to make money. And Kurtz is the ultimate money maker; he does whatever it takes to get the job done. The company keeps what Kurtz does quiet because maybe they don’t know exactly how he is getting all the ivory and also because they are scared of him. They don’t want to upset him or anything because then he could start working for himself instead of them. Kurtz, in a sense, is worse than the natives. The company could control the natives, but not Kurtz. I mean, he establishes himself as a godlike figure to the natives in and around the Inner Station. He is worshipped even by the Russian, who should know better because he is “civilized.” He even says that we can’t judge Kurtz as “an ordinary man.” He, like the natives, was infatuated with Kurtz.

Another interesting quote is “I looked at him as you peer down at a man who is lying the bottom of a precipice where the sun never shines.” Marlow is referring to Kurtz in this quote. I think that if we dissect this, we find deep meaning behind it as to what Marlow thinks of Kurtz. Kurtz is the man lying at the bottom of this cliff. In this story, there are many times when Marlow is in Africa and cliffs are part of the scenery. So I think that we can say that Kurtz is at the bottom of an African cliff. Not only is he down there, but he is lying, not standing. This could mean that he is tired or even shamed. A worn-out Kurtz is lying at the bottom of this African cliff where there is no sun. Sun, I think in this context, refers to the on going metaphor of dark and light in this novella. No sunlight means darkness; there is darkness at the bottom of this cliff where Kurtz is lying. Kurtz is part of darkness, you could say. This darkness represents Africa and all the stereotypes that come along with it like savagery and brutality. How could Europe produce something so “dark” when it is civilized? I think this is a major point in this novella written by Joseph Conrad, but through the eyes of Charlie Marlow.

-Mihee Jones

Kurtz, Europe, and Africa

I feel that Marlow understands the relation between Kurtz, Europe, and Africa differently in the beginning of his journey than he does towards the end of his journey to bring Kurtz back home.

In the beginning Kurtz is referred to as a European knight; A “knight errant”. A knight errant is a figure in medieval romantic literature that would wander the land in search of conquests/adventures for example, Don Quixote. Don Quixote wandered the land in search of adventures to prove his chivalry. Although he was not actually doing that his intentions were good. In the beginning Kurtz represents this knight, to Marlow, that is so eloquent and good that is going to go through Africa and make it better; go through and “enlighten” the Africans to the European/christian way. In a sense Kurtz represents Europe, or at least how others view Kurtz. Europeans were to enlighten the world. They were to go to these “shaded” areas on the map and teach them “the way,” their way.

In the end Marlow sees that Kurtz did go through Africa and show them his way. Kurtz represents Europe’s spreading through unconquered areas wreaking havoc on all they touch. They begin with good intentions or appear to have good intentions to others but in the end they are hurting who they touch. But, as Marlow has a good impression of kurtz before he meets the man, the Europeans at home think that the Europeans in Africa are teaching the africans and helping them make their country better, they believe they are “bringing light to the country” when in all reality they are putting them in bondage. The Europeans are calling the Africans criminals and chaining them up and making them do useless work and Kurtz takes it further by calling them rebels, cutting their heads off, and putting the heads on posts for all to see.

I think Marlow feels that both Europe and Africa are “in the dark” for different reasons. One example of Europe being in the darkness is that all the women Marlow meets while in Europe are in black clothing or knitting black wool, maybe suggesting that these Europeans are in the dark and do not know what is going on in Africa. There are a couple areas in the text that suggest that one should hide the truth from the women because they would not be able to handle the truth. They talk about how out of touch women are and how they have never seen anything like it before, that they live in a world of their own. The women (Europeans) will not be able to handle reality. Especially at the end of the narrative when Marlow goes to Kurt’s intended and tells her what will make her happy and keeps her in the “darkness.”

By telling his story, Marlow is bringing light to what is going on in Africa. I think the true enlightenment is bringing to light, to the Europeans, what is actually going on over there and through the telling of Marlows story it is bound to eventually spread through Europe and Europe will eventually be enlightened.

"I tried to break the spell-the heavy mute spell of the wilderness-that seemed to draw him to its pitiless breast by the awakening of forgotten and brutal instincts, by the memory of gratified and monstrous passions. This alone, I was convinced, had driven him out of the edge of the forest, to the bush, towards the gleam of fires, the throb of drums, the drone of weird incantations; this alone had beguiled his unlawful soul beyond the bounds of permitted aspirations"(87). This quote, I believe is a very good representation of how Marlow views Kurtz, a man who is caught between two worlds-England and Africa. In Conrad's novella, Heart of Darkness, he sends his main character, Charlie Marlow, a seaman and wonderful storyteller into the heart of the Congo. He is sent there to rescue Kurtz, a person who he has heard much about. On his way to the Inner Station, he meets several men-- the accountant, the brickmaker and the manager, to name a few. Marlow also meets many canibals, natives of the land and notices their anguish. He comes to despise the white men with whom he works, and seems himself to be caught in two worlds- in between the English and the Canibals, neither with whom he identifies with. Marlow treks into the wilderness, as neither an Englishman or a Cannibal from Africa. His struggle is perhaps what Kurtz struggled with as well.
As he goes deeper and deeper into the dark jungle, Marlow does not have a total understanding of darkness. He knows something is going on, deeper and more mysterious and darker than he could imagine, but he keeps on going. He does, however, note that a man is not at his darkest until left on his own with his own feelings. Certain feelings out weigh others, he notes this on the boat when watching the Canibals. He is afraid they might cause an uproar because of their huger. He believes that hunger will outweigh other things. Left to his own thoughts, a man can drive himself mad.
He comes on shore once he reaches the inner station. When talking to Kurtz's Russian sidekick, Marlow notices that he doesn't really want to talk too much about Kurtz. Marlow calls Kurtz mad, but the Russian is quick to defend him. He then tells him about how Kurtz has aquired so much ivory- and how terrible he can really be. On their walk, Marlow notices that what he thought were ornamental knobs on posts were actually human heads of some of the natives. Only one is facing him. The Russian says that these are rebels, but Marlow doesn't belive him because he's heard natives called 'criminals' before when it was not true. As this scene plays out, Marlow realizes two things- his growing mistrust of the pilgrims and his understanding of how dark Kurtz is. He even says that Kurtz is dark to the core.
When meeting Kurtz, Marlow does not get the impression that he thought he would. He is fragile and very close to dying. Perhaps the best representation of Kurtz's relationship with his home country, England and his new home, the African wilderness, is when Kurtz sneaks out in the middle of the night. Marlow writes of waking up at midnight and hearing drums, he also notices that Kurtz is not in his room and that he, sick as he was, crawled on all fours to get to the drums and fire of the wilderness. That night, Marlow, who is a representation of the English world and the natives, who represent Africa, fought over Kurtz. He says he could visibly see the fight in Kurtz's soul, and though he was still in his right mind, his soul was mad. This is the relationship between a man who is left to his own, and two countries. He is completely torn because of his lust for ivory and his madness caused by being on his own so long. Marlow's first thoughts of darkness are proven correct, that a man becomes most dark when he is left to his own thoughts.

The Relationship of Kurtz, Europe, and Africa in Conrad's Heart of Darkness

Conrad’s’ Heart of Darkness is a literary masterpiece that delves into the deep psychological make up of man. By exploring the effects of placing civilization into the very depths of wilderness, Conrad suggests that, void of any sense of normalcy, man could very well go mad. He makes this point by marvelously placing one mysterious character in between two worlds, Europe and Africa. The relationship between this central character, Mr. Kurtz, and the two worlds creates a veritable “heart of darkness”.

One of the most interesting tools Conrad uses to build that relationship is point of view. Throughout the story, we learn of Kurtz through the eyes of another seaman named Marlowe who is actually spinning a sailors yarn. The affect of this limited third-person narrator is that everything we learn about Kurtz is relative to the viewpoint of Marlowe. For some, it brings into question the validity of the story. Nonetheless, it does help to interweave the relationship between Mr. Kurtz, Europe, and Africa.

We get our first impressions of Europe through Marlowe during his trip down the River Thames in London. He contextually describes the ancient Roman conquest as “merely a squeeze, and nothing more.” According to Marlowe, this conquest was “not a pretty thing when you look into it too much”. But, unlike the Romans, what saved Europeans in his time was an “idea”. Thus, European ideals, whether it is bringing Christianity or civilization to others, justified their conquest. His tone seems quite sarcastic in this description making the reader question if “an idea” is really enough to justify “taking away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves”. This is great example of how Marlowe qualifies our viewpoint of Europe.

However, Europe is better conceived in contrast to Africa. One example is found when Marlowe describes a Man of War sitting off the coast of Africa seemingly firing at nothing. This image makes Europe, with all its grandeur, seem inane in the African setting. Furthermore, upon landing in Africa, Marlowe’s depiction of European machinery lying “as dead as the carcasses of some animals” suggests that European influence could not survive in the African wilderness. A final example is found when Marlowe is looking at the serenity of nature and all of a sudden a rhinoceros comes and disturbs the piece of the moment with “a deadened burst of mighty splashes”. All of these examples point to the degrading effect of nature upon Europe.

These images are very significant because Marlowe says of Kurtz, “All Europe contributed to the making of Kurtz.” In essence, Kurtz is Europe; and, like Europe, “he had no restraint”. In his mind everything belonged to him. At one point, Kurtz exclaimed, “My Intended, my ivory, my station, my river.” This lack of restraint placed a terrible toll on a once “noble and eloquent man”. According to Marlowe, “the wilderness…had taken on him a terrible vengeance for the fantastic invasion.” Thus, just like that the Man of War, or that abandoned machinery, the African wilderness had rendered Kurtz ineffectual, and eventually left him as a carcass. He could not survive the innards of the wilds. The “heart of darkness” was just too much for him.

Clearly, then, in this work, Europe is destroyed by the depths of Africa. Since Kurtz is made from all of Europe, his innate failings where magnified by abundance of commodities and deadly isolation that Africa offered. In the end, though, he could never enjoy all of his “ivory”. He was consumed by the darkness.

The Heart of Darkness

When I think of the question how Marlow found Europe, Africa, and Kurtz related in some way, I think of the hearts of all three. The title of the story describes the hearts of Europe, Africa, and eventually Kurtz. Their hearts were dark. Most people, places, and things don't start off dark they become that way over time, due to outside influence or passions roaring within. In the story Europe was to be the enlightener, but under everything was just the opposite. Like every successful undercover operation, it portrays itself to be the picture of perfection, happiness, success, prosperity for everyone, but behind the scenes, all of these things would be the opposite. The operation is truly flaw, sadness, failure, and poverty for everyone. When you think about the scene at the outer station where they had enslaved many Africans, how could this be enlightenment or success for all involved. The desire to get gain on behalf of Europe and the people of Africa may have started off without darkness but became dark along the way driven by a passion of greed. In the story it mentions that Kurtz was made of everything Europe. This ties Kurtz and Europe together as the two main contributors of what was happening in Africa. Kurtz and Europe used their knowledge to play on and take advantage of the ignorance of Africa. When Kurtz first arrived in Africa, his intentions were harmless, and because of outside influence, or maybe a passion to portray the truth about the horror in himself, led him astray. The story mentions that Kurtz was an extremist, so for him to corrupt himself just to prove that enlightenment was not being spread, was not unlikely. Africa is the picture of this so called enlightenment that Europe and Kurtz are contributing to society. If there were ever anything as dark as the way the slaves, or as they were called the criminals, were referenced to and treated was revealed here. They were never referred to as people always shapes and shadows. The story is full of death. Death not only of the slaves and soon Kurtz, but death of truth, hope, and love. I believe that Marlow knew that within Kurtz, Europe, and Africa, was the truth, and the only one that was not totally lost to the darkness was Kurtz. Kurtz still held the truth inside him even until the end laying on his death bed. Kurtz had things to remind him of the truth, like the pamphlet he had Marlow to keep. Marlow admired Kurtz not only for his eloquence, but his courage to say what he had in his heart. Even in the end Marlow still does not have the courage to tell the truth and shed some light on things. He tells Kurtz's fiance that Kurtz's last words were her name. If he would have told her what was truly said, maybe that would have opened the door for enlightenment. Marlow knew that Kurtz, Europe, and Africa were prisoners of this darkness, and that the real enlightenment was the truth coming out.

The Heart of Darkness

Conrad’s novella, The Heart of Darkness, is a story revolving around two main characters; Marlow and Kurtz. The story starts out with Marlow telling a sea story, and throughout the novella, that seems to be the main point of the narrative. It seems as though Conrad wants us to think the entire story is about a voyage taken through the Congo river in Africa by this youthful and aspiring man (Marlow) looking to better himself in the world. This novella follows that path until the second protagonist is introduced, and that point the story seems to take a huge turn. Kurtz is introduced to Marlow in the narrative by the Manager only by word of mouth. The Manager speaks very highly of Kurtz and explains his importance to the company’s success. From that point on, the theme of the story shifts to finding Kurtz and saving him before he dies from sickness. Marlow’s drive, or will succeed in the Congo, is derived simply from the fact that he must meet Kurtz and converse him; though Marlow does not realize this until he faces a near death encounter with the natives. It is at this very moment that Marlow realizes the ominous importance of Kurtz, not only to the company, but to Europe and Africa as well.

Kurtz was direct representation of all that was good in Europe. He represented a vast background and many cultures. His mother was half-French and his father was half-English which clearly made him a representation of that portion of Europe. Everyone knew of Kurtz and many of which sought for his guidance. It is best stated in the novella on page 74; “All Europe contributed to the making of Kurtz; and by and by I learned that, most appropriately, the International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs (ISSSC) had entrusted him with the making of a report, for its future guidance.” That report alone supported the sole purpose of the company’s purpose in Africa. Europe felt it was their responsibility to impress civilization on the so called savages of the world. Europe felt that this is what Kurtz was achieving in Africa, and made him very important. Not only was he important to Europe, but he was just as important to the company. He was the company’s best hope for gaining money and profit. Due to this, Kurtz was a big part of the company’s appearance, and the company did not want the real truth about their “enlightening” of the natives to get out. Kurtz made a tremendous sacrifice for the truth to be known throughout Europe, but in the end it cost him his life.

Kurtz’s relation with Africa was a completely different one. He went from representing all that was good in the intentions of Europe to be the exact portrait of what the company’s sole purpose was; and that purpose was to make money at all cost. Africa and the natives had a fear of Kurtz, he intimidated many of them. He knew that he must either kill them to show that he was ominous, or enslaving them to help him achieve his goal. Many of the natives saw Kurtz as a god of sorts; maybe because of his presence or simply placing some of the native’s heads on sticks. Yet this entire time, Europe believed the company was there to enlighten the natives, and make them more civilized. Kurtz’s report for the ISSSC contained a post script, which said “Exterminate all the brutes!” That concise statement completely contradicts everything Europe represented. Instead, Kurtz became the center of exactly what the company was all about, “The horror! The Horror!”