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VI- Heart of Darkness: the title. 
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Post VI- Heart of Darkness: the title.
VI- The title, "Heart of Darkness".

What does the title mean?


What does "dark" mean in HD?
( Africa was known as "the Dark Continent " during the Victorian era.)


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Last edited by Ophelia on Fri Feb 08, 2008 6:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.



Sun Feb 03, 2008 1:52 pm
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The title has become almost a cliche, hasn't it? What does it mean, though? This is where the novel is suggestive, not leaning too much on any one interpretation. If we keep in mind the historical background Ophelia provided, we might incline toward the belief that the human heart is capable of great atrocity even while espousing the noblest-sounding motives. What the Europeans perpetrated shows the inhumanity deep within our nature. Is that the horror that Kurtz refers to in his last words?

The heart of darkness has a more literal meaning at one point, when the drumbeats are likened to the beating of this heart of darkness. Throughout the novel, progressing further into the interior of the Congo is compared to advancing deeper, toward the heart, of this dark place.

An aspect of darkness I'm not sure of is that of the culture of the native people. Is that in itself an aspect of darkness, in the view of Marlow? I tend to think not. He sees them as primitive and unindividuated, definitely in rascist terms, but probably thinks they are neither better nor worse by nature than anyone else. I wonder whether Marlow undergoes a change of attitude when his helmsman dies almost in his arms. He realizes a connection that he hadn't before, but Conrad is probably too honest a writer make too much of this event. There is still a gulf between the two cultures.



Thu Feb 07, 2008 8:53 pm
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Post The struggle between good and evil
This leads us to the theme of the struggle between good and evil

(or light and darkness) within:


- Marlow's mind/soul.



- Kurtz's mind/soul.


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Fri Feb 08, 2008 7:36 am
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Marlow has always seen the land of Africa, blank on his map as being without a history and therefore dark. There is the darkness of the jungle off to the sides of the river. I believe at the time of Conrad's writing Africa was still called the Dark Continent. I think this is also an allusion to the darkness that exists within people.
Kurtz has given up what Marlow sees as the "outside" world to live within the "darkness" of this foreign land.



Fri Feb 08, 2008 5:42 pm
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Africa was known as the Dark Continent then and to some extent, I think it still is.

There are still dreadful atroceties happening in the Congo right now today. Although Botswana sounds like quite a jolly place, at last reading.

Mma Ramotswe in No.1 Ladies Detective Agency - loves Botswana and obviously thinks her village is the only place to live. When considering where God sends the wicked people - to Hell? She reckons it is somewhere like Nigeria!!! :lol: That is because it is the neighbouring country to Botswana. We, in Lancashire are the same about Yorkshire.. ;-)

I think Conrad was considering his own feelings of helplessness and feeling lost. He had tried to commit suicide at an earlier time, so the poor man was obviously not a little ray of sunshine himself.

Whether he was referring to the heart of darkness in all of us is hard to decide although many novelists have used this as a theme - ie Lord of the Flies. Scratch the surface of any one of us and you will find a savage and a barbarian.....so they say.

There were many books written later - some saying that all the evil in the world was within mankind and that we could rise above that - any of us. Others argued that there were actually evil people (irredemable). That there actually is an identifiable evil force in the World. I used to disagree strongly with the latter, but I have began to doubt that stance now, in the light of some media reports over the last few years.



Thu Feb 14, 2008 11:25 am
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DWill wrote:
He sees them as primitive and unindividuated, definitely in rascist terms, but probably thinks they are neither better nor worse by nature than anyone else.


That doesn't make him racist - they are 'primitive' as compared to his own society, but that isn't a racist thought.

If he thinks they are no better or worse than anyone else, then he sees them as equals.

The word 'racist' is sometimes pinned on someone who so much as disagrees with something a black person has said.

People have often made the mistake of thinking of a society so much different than our own as being 'deficient', 'inferior', because they haven't figured out how to modernize with electricity and automatic tools.

Who is to say?



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I think the 'darkness' is all that we do not know or understand.



Thu Feb 14, 2008 6:17 pm
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Post if i remember correctly
when i read this book in my 2nd year of secondary school (that would be 1977/78, part of the class was the discussion of the three different kinds of conflict in writing: man v nature, man v. man, man v. self. Part of what makes this story so interesting is the way that all of these conflicts occur within the short span of the story.

It's the same with the idea of the 'heart of darkness' The darkness here can apply to all three levels. Man v nature is man conquesting the unknown (dark, as in dark ages) parts of the planet, which during the period of the writing would have been a relevant topic. man v man is the story of kurtz and marlow and the story of man v self is kurtz v his own nature i.e. turning into a cannabal and marlow v his self in what does he tell others about what he saw after telling us he hates lying.

i think it is the idea of the complexity of the story that has made this a classic on the literature circuit.



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wildcitywoman,

Well, yes, I can see how you saw inconsistency in that statement of mine. I do still think that to posit certain differences between races of people (some would say so-called races), is to be a racist in a literal sense, though not necessarily in the very loaded sense that we have used for the past 50 years or so. And I had in mind that Marlowe did not think the Africans to be morally worse than the Europeans (how could he, seeing what they were up to). But I didn't make that clear.

Will



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Post Re: VI- Heart of Darkness: the title.
I think that the Africans are surrounded by plenty of deaths and it turns their world into chaos because of the unimaginable horror that is taking place in Africa. They are looking for something in all that darkness and chaos, they are looking for help someone thats good and that is the heart. The bad thing is that the heart is tainted by darkness and thats what the title Heart of Darkness means. They are looking for help in someones heart, but don't realize its tainted by darkness so there really isn't any help.


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Post Re: VI- Heart of Darkness: the title.
I think the africans are depressed and they are filled with anger because the europeans are treating them wrong. They are not able to expirence the good things in life. So their lifes are surrounded by darkness.


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Post Re: VI- Heart of Darkness: the title.
I think the title " Heart Of darkness" gives me a creepy feeling when i first saw the title. Because heart might means love and darkness can mean the dark side of human . Just like it can be a person who turns out to be bad after loving a person too deep. That is my first thought about the stroy title .



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Post Re: VI- Heart of Darkness: the title.
the first time i saw the title "heart of darkness", i thought that plenty of hearts will get broken. now when i read the book i think it means that your heart has a scar now for experiencing what really happens in africa.



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Post Re: VI- Heart of Darkness: the title.
I think the books title is heart of darkness because Marlow migth have never seen anything like how the Europeans are treating the Africans and now he sees that life is not always a good life to liveand that the Africans are being treated wrong.That makes him feel that many Europeans are filled with darkness in their hearts.



Wed Apr 21, 2010 9:28 pm
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Post Re: VI- Heart of Darkness: the title.
When i first heard about the title "Heart of the Darkness" i had soem mixed feelings. when something is dark it usually is soemthing that is sad or unhappy. It kinda reminds me fo someone suffereing. to me i think this title means someone is feeling bad from the heart, seeing someone suffering. this is tiffany from 3rd period btw



Wed Apr 21, 2010 9:47 pm
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