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

Friday, March 24, 2006

"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.


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