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

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Heart of Darkness

Conrad’s "Heart of Darkness" is a complex story or epic of a great sea captain. The story is told from the first hand account of a brave sea captain named Marlow. His experiences impacted him so much that he felt lead to share his story. One evening aboard a boat near the Thames River Marlow beings to share his adventure of the Congo River with some fellow shipmates perhaps out of sheer boredom. Marlow illustrates an assignment that he took from a trading company that was based back in Europe. The company had three stations along the Congo mainly dealing with imports and export trading. Marlow’s assignment was to lead a steamboat up the Congo River and rescue the previous manager of the trading post, Kurtz, who had become stranded. As Marlow arrived at the second camp where his steamboat was located he was instructed to repair the boat because it had hit a snag in the river and sunk. As he began work on the task at hand he discovered many untold truths about the camp and the new acting manager. As Marlow tried to repair his steamboat he encountered a shortage of rivets to seal the leaks, although the first camp had rivets galore. Marlow soon discovers that his attempts at repairing the boat were being delayed on purpose by the acting manager. The manger and his uncle were trying to stall the trip up river to rescue Kurtz in the hopes that Kurtz would kill over and they could claim all of the ivory that Kurtz had collected. So actually the task that Marlow had been assigned to was to rescue the precious ivory not the stranded Kurtz. As the story unfolds Marlow beings to understand the relationship throughout the entire trading post, especially the relationship between Kurtz, Europe, and Africa. Kurtz had become one with the natives of Africa and had a vast understanding of the darkness or the land itself. Although it was never stated, I believe that the poor man had gone crazy at that desolate camp along the Congo. I believe that Marlow really feels sympathy for Kurtz, or perhaps a respect for the once great leader and man. After the rescue party gets to Kurtz, or shall I say the ivory, they begin on a voyage back down river. Kurtz eventually dies and gives Marlow some important documents that contain a report on the hole trading process. Kurtz and Marlow I don’t believe ever really become friends or buddies, but Kurtz trusts Marlow due to his sound judgement. Perhaps Kurtz was once a great man but Marlow illustrates his own greatness through his narrative although I believe that his intentions were not impress his fellow shipmates, but rather to pass that time.


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