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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
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Charles Marlow, Kurtz, Heart of Darkness, Marlow, Joseph Conrad, Congo River, Horror
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