lieshod White Lies in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness

analytical Essay
2842 words
2842 words

White Lies in Heart of Darkness In his novella Heart of Darkness (1899), Joseph Conrad through his principal narrator, Marlow, reflects upon the evils of the human condition as he has experienced it in Africa and Europe. Seen from the perspective of Conrad's nameless, objective persona, the evils that Marlow encountered on the expedition to the "heart of darkness," Kurtz's Inner Station on the banks of the snake-like Congo River, fall into two categories: the petty misdemeanors and trivial lies that are common- place, and the greater evils -- the grotesque acts society attributes to madmen. That the first class of malefaction is connected to the second is illustrated in the downfall of the story's secondary protagonist, the tragically deluded and hubristic Mr. Kurtz. The European idealist, believing the lies of his Company and of the economic imperialism that supports it, is unprepared for the test of character that the Congo imposes, and succumbs to the potential for the diabolical latent within every human consciousness. Although numerous critics (including Johanna M. Smith, Peter Hyland, Herbert Klein, and Garrett Stewart) have drawn attention to how Marlow's lie to the Intended informs the whole preceding text and how that culminating scene with the Intended is connected to Marlow's initial impression of Brussels as a whited sepulchre (how appropriate in light of Belgian King Leopold II's hypocritical defense of his private company's rapacious exploitation of the ludicrously- named Congo Free State!), few have until recently focussed on how the lie affects the reader's reaction to Marlow as the protagonist and narrator of Conrad's Congo tale. Answering questions which the dead man's Intended poses him reg... ... middle of paper ... ... Rosmarin, Adena. "Darkening the Reader: Reader- Response Criticism and Heart of Darkness ." Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness: A Case Study in Contemporary Criticism , ed. Ross C. Murfin. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1989. Pp. 148-171. Smith, Johanna M. Smith. "'Too Beautiful Altogether': Patriarchal Ideology in Heart of Darkness ." Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness: A Case Study in Contemporary Criticism , ed. Ross C. Murfin. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1989. Pp. 179-198. Stewart, Garrett. "Lying as Dying in Heart of Darkness ." PMLA 95 (1980): 319- 331. Trilling, Lionel. " Huckleberry Finn ." The Liberal Imagination: Essays on Literature and Society . New York: Doubleday Anchor Books, 1950. Pp. 100-113. Wright, Walter F. "Ingress to The Heart of Darkness ." Romance and Tragedy in Joseph Conrad . New York: Russell and Russell, 1966. Pp. 143-160.

In this essay, the author

  • Analyzes how joseph conrad, through his principal narrator, marlow, reflects upon the evils of the human condition as he has experienced it in africa and europe.
  • Analyzes how marlow's lie to the intended informs the preceding text, and how that culminating scene with the inntended is connected to his initial impression of brussels as a whited sepulchre.
  • Analyzes how charlie marlow despises kurtz's visions and his guileless love for the quondam humanitarian. he acquiesces in her statements of faith and prevaricates with double meaning.
  • Argues that the white man's burden lies must be accepted if the natives of the dark continent are to be improved, enlightened, and transformed into white people with black skins.
  • Analyzes how the countenancing of the greater evil, the lies like rainbow colours on the company's map, veil the real motives of european imperialism in africa.
  • Analyzes how kurtz's company has used corporate profits to justify its presence and activities in central africa. he espoused altruistic ideals to mitigate enslaving the natives.
  • Analyzes how the manager's lofty intentions for his work at the jungle station were quickly perverted by the darwinian ethos of the unfamiliar climate and environment.
  • Analyzes how conrad alludes to christ's characterization of his opponents, the pharisees, as "whited sepulchres" spiritually. what the saviour found objectionable in his sectarian adversaries is what marlow finds repulsive in the belgian company: pure hypocrisy.
  • Analyzes how marlow's description of his city of departure recalls the biblical phrase for the hypocrite, the man of inner darkness whitewashed by outer manner
  • Analyzes how the marble fireplace of the intended's parlour possesses a "cold and monumental whiteness," connecting this particular european interior with the general exterior of society.
  • Analyzes how marlow's closing scene of "the heart of darkness" leaves the reader with ambivalent feelings about conrad’s chief narrator.
  • Analyzes how kurtz and marlow have looked into that dark place in the human psyche and know what lies there.
  • Opines that marlow's lie is neither wicked nor self-serving, but justifiable as odysseus'. it is insulating the intended from the darwinian reality behind the african jungle and brussels' impassive façade.
  • Analyzes how marlow reinforces his chivalric image of himself by keeping kurtz's intended from the truth of his death.
  • Analyzes how rosmarin points out that in heart of darkness white is the "most explicit confusion" for the reader, since it is an "off-color," the hue of ivory (upon which the whole european economic venture rests) and kurtz's complexion.
  • Analyzes how marlow reverses the normal symbology of the black-white dichotomy, so that gradually darkness comes to mean truth, whiteness falsehood.
  • Describes conrad's heart of darkness and the critics, ed. bruce harkness.
  • Explains that dowden, wilfred s., "i start with definite images." joseph conrad: the imagined style.
  • Analyzes hyland, peter, "the little woman in the heart of darkness." conradiana 20, 1 (1988): 3-12.
  • Explains that joseph conrad's heart of darkness, a case study in contemporary criticism, was published by ross c. murfin.
  • Explains klein, herbert g., "charting the unknown: conrad, marlow, and the world of women." conradiana 20, 2: 147-158.
  • Explains lynn, david h., "heart of darkness : marlow's heroic cry." narrators in the early modern novel.
  • Analyzes montag's "marlow tells the truth: the nature of evil in heart of darkness."
  • Explains that moser, thomas c., "the uncongenial subject." joseph conrad: achievement and decline.
  • Explains rosmarin, adena, and ross c. murfin's heart of darkness: a case study in contemporary criticism.
  • Analyzes smith, johanna m. smith's book, "too beautiful altogether": patriarchal ideology in heart of darkness.
  • Describes stewart, garrett's "lying as dying in heart of darkness".
  • Describes trilling, lionel, and the liberal imagination: essays on literature and society.
  • Explains that wright, walter f., "ingress to the heart of darkness." romance and tragedy in joseph conrad.
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