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Joseph Conrad, Heart of

Darkness (1899; 1902)

Lesson 1

Make notes on paper/in


notebooks as we go.

Heart of Darkness & Conrads


literary influence
For the purposes of Paper 2, one of the
texts must be pre-1900.
Heart of Darkness was first published in
1899, in Blackwoods Magazine; the novel
is whats known as a fin de sicle text.
Fin de sicle = end of the century; the
term has come to mean late nineteenthcentury writing, as this is in many ways a
turning point in American and European
literary history.

Conrad is sometimes
credited as one of the
fathers of the modern
novel.
His work is in many ways a
transition point between
(typically) Victorian
writing and the modernist
writing of the Edwardian
and WWI eras.

Victorian era
1837-1901
Edwardian
era
19011910/14
WWI
1914-1918
WWII
1939-1945

Literary Modernism
Sometimes associated with a period:
Possibly inter-war years (1918-1939)
Possibly 1910 1939 (Virginia Woolf: in or about
December, 1910, human character changed)
Possibly Edwardian era - 1939

Sometimes associated with an aesthetic project:


No easy/simple definition of literary modernism
Seems to be marked by an attempt to experiment with
form and language, to be less constrained by plot than
earlier traditions, and to render the world as it is truly
given in personal experience (Woolf accused earlier
novelists of being too interested in the fabric of things)

Lesson 2: Narrators and


Narrative Structure
Recap:
Why is Conrads literary importance?
What French term means end of the century?
What is literary modernism, in terms of:
period;
characteristic features of the writing?

Plot Summary
Work in groups to order the plot
summary.

The Narrator describes a night spent on a ship in the mouth of


the Thames River in England. Marlow, one of the men on board,
tells of his time spent as a riverboat pilot in an unnamed place,
which appears to be somewhere in Africa.
With the help of his well-connected aunt, Marlow gets a job as
pilot on a steamship on an unnamed river for a European
business outfit called the Company. First he travels to the
European city he describes as a "whited sepulcher" to visit the
Company headquarters, and then to Africa and up the river to
take command of his ship. The Company headquarters is
strangely ominous, and on his voyage to Africa he witnesses
waste, incompetence, negligence, and brutality so extreme that it
would be absurd if it weren't so awful. In particular, he sees a
French warship firing into a forest for no discernible reason and
comes upon a grove where exploited black laborers wander off to
die. While at the Company's Outer Station, Marlow meets the
Company's Chief Accountant. He mentions a remarkable man
named Kurtz, who runs the Company's Inner Station deep in the
jungle.

Marlow hikes from the Outer Station to the Central Station, where he
discovers that the steamship he's supposed to pilot recently sank in an
accident. In the three months it takes Marlow to repair the ship, he learns
that Kurtz is a man of impressive abilities and enlightened morals, and is
marked for rapid advancement in the Company. He learns also that the
General Manager who runs Central Station and his crony the Brickmaker
fear Kurtz as a threat to their positions. Marlow finds himself almost
obsessed with meeting Kurtz, who is also rumored to be sick.
Marlow finally gets the ship fixed and sets off upriver with the General
Manager and a number of company agents Marlow calls Pilgrims because
the staffs they carry resemble the staffs of religious pilgrims. The trip is
long and difficult: native drums beat through the night and snags in the
river and blinding fogs delay them. Just before they reach Inner Station
the steamship is attacked by natives. Marlow's helmsman, a native
trained to steer the ship, is killed by a spear.
At Inner Station, a Russian trader meets them on the shore. He tells them
that Kurtz is alive but ill. As the General Manager goes to get Kurtz,
Marlow talks to the Russian trader and realizes that Kurtz has made
himself into a brutal and vicious god to the natives. When the General
Manager and his men bring Kurtz out from the station house on a
stretcher, the natives, including a woman who seems to be Kurtz's
mistress, appear ready to riot. But Kurtz calms them and they melt back
into the forest.

The Russian sees that the General Manager has it in for him, and
slips off into the jungle, but not before telling Marlow that Kurtz
ordered the attack on the steamship. That night, Marlow discovers
Kurtz crawling toward the native camp. Marlow persuades Kurtz to
return to the ship by telling him he will be utterly lost" if he
causes the natives to attack. The steamer sets off the next day.
But Kurtz is too ill to survive the journey, and gives his papers to
Marlow for safekeeping. His dying words are: "The horror! The
horror!" Marlow believes Kurtz is judging himself and the world.
Marlow also falls ill, but survives. He returns to the sepulchral city
in Europe and gives Kurtz's papers to the relevant people. The last
person he visits is Kurtz's Intended (his fianc). She believes Kurtz
is a great man, both talented and moral, and asks Marlow to tell
her Kurtz's last words. Marlow can't find it in himself to destroy her
beautiful delusions: he says Kurtz's last words were her name.
On the ship in the Thames, Marlow falls silent, and as the Narrator
stares out from the ship it seems to him that the Thames leads
into the heart of an immense darkness."

Make notes in your notebooks, under


the sub-headings in yellow boxes

HoD: Opening

From the start to has been one of


the dark places of the earth.

Where is the novel set?


Who is present?
What is their relationship?
How are the people present
positioned in relation to the setting
(whats in front of them, and whats
behind them)?
Who is the narrator?
Who is Marlow?

Marlow
Conrads best-known character; often viewed
as Cs alter-ego.
Also appears in the novels Lord Jim and
Chance; also in story Youth (first appearance)
A story-teller of his own and of others tales;
Conrads nameless narrator associates telling
yarns with the life of sea-faring men

Conrads narrative
technique
Frame narrator/Diegetic narrator: The main or primary
narrator. Beyond the diegetic or frame narrator there is
only the author.
Diegesis: the narrative frame. Imagine the diegesis as
the frame around a picture
Conrad makes frequent use of nested narratives, by using
intradiegetic narrators (characters within the story who
tell stories about others telling stories...)
We never know who the diegetic narrator is, or what his
relationship is to the others. The nameless narrator tells us a
story about Marlow telling a story. Marlows stories contain
frequent retellings of others stories...
This use of intradiegetic narrative can be confusing, but it
can also add layers to the narrative.

Opening to Youth, the first of Conrads stories


to feature Marlow
THIS could have occurred nowhere but in England, where men and sea
interpenetrate, so to speak the sea entering into the life of most
men, and the men knowing something or everything about the sea, in
the way of amusement, of travel, or of bread-winning.
We were sitting round a mahogany table that reflected the bottle, the
claretglasses, and our faces as we leaned on our elbows. There was a
director of companies, an accountant, a lawyer, Marlow, and myself.
The director had been a CONWAY boy, the accountant had served four
years at sea, the lawyer a fine crusted Tory, High Churchman, the
best of old fellows, the soul of honor had been chief officer in the P.
& O. service in the good old days when mail-boats were square-rigged
at least on two masts, and used to come down the China Sea before a
fair monsoon with stun-sails set alow and aloft. We all began life in
the merchant service. Between the five of us there was the strong
bond of the sea, and also the fellowship of the craft, which no amount
of enthusiasm for yachting, cruising, and so on can give, since one is
only the amusement of life and the other is life itself.
Marlow (at least I think that is how he spelt his name) told the story,
or rather the chronicle, of a voyage

The opening of HoD (paragraph 4) contains a reference to


Youth: Between us there was, as I have already said
somewhere, the bond of the sea.
Look at the passage from Youth, and the reference to it in
HoD: how well do these people know each other? What thing is
it that brings them together? What is the symbolic importance
of this thing?
There is a subtle message about storytelling offered early on.
Read the paragraph immediately after Marlows first words
(And this also)
What is the significance of this paragraph? What is Conrad
telling us about storytelling?
Virginia Woolf said of Conrad, it seemed impossible for him to
make an ugly or insignificant movement of the pen. Is she
right? Does this matter?

Lesson 3: The Significance of


the Title
What do you make of the title?
If you have been told anything about
the historical backdrop to the novel,
keep it to yourself for now...

Beginning and Ending


Quickly remind yourselves of the opening, up to the
point where Marlow first speaks
Now look at the closing passages of the novel, from I
heard a light sigh... until the end.
Marlow finishes his story by confessing to his friends that
he lied to Kurtzs intended. He told her that Ks final
words were of her, when in fact his final words are The
horror! The horror!
Based on the opening and closing, what might be the
significance of the title?

This story is called Heart of Darkness: it is


almost as if we must penetrate many
narrative layers in order to get to the
heart of the story, which is somewhat
mysterious, and hidden in the shadows.
(Link this to what the diegetic
narrator says about Marlow and
storytelling at the beginning...)
However, there are other ways of reading
this story...

Answer the questions on the sheet provided as you watch


the documentary. We will go over them at the start of the
next lesson. If you do not get all the questions filled in, rewatch the documentary tonight on You Tube. It is called
Congo The Brutal History (link is below) :

Relevance (this is on your sheets):


Between the 1870s and 1890s, Conrad worked
on ships. He qualified as a ship aster, and
commanded one vessel from 1888-1889.
Between June and December of 1889, he served
on a steam-ship in the Congo. The work
supposed to last up to two years. He returned in
December after falling seriously ill. He survived,
but never fully recovered his health.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qx2Sj1fhSso
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILB2ALJbd6c

Lesson 4): Conrad and the


Scramble For Africa
Answers to documentary qs.

1. Early in the film, a speaker uses two Latin phrases to describe how
Europe viewed Africa: what are these phrases? Tabula rasa (blank
slate); terra incognita (unknown land)
2. How did European nations and leaders justify the scramble for
Africa; what did they say their mission was? Civilizing mission
3. Of which country was King Leopold II the king? Belgium
4. When was King Leopold IIs sovereignty over Congo recognized?
1835
5. What did he claim his reasons for going into Congo were? What were
they in reality? Education/philantropy (good/kindly deeds)
6. 1,308: to what does this figure refer? Number of hands cut off in
one day
7. What was the decrease in Congos population between 1880 and
1820? 50%, from 20 million to 10 million
8. What contributed to this massive decrease? Deaths due to violent
treatment; also meant that there was no one left to maintain
normal village/tribal life and routines

9. When Leopold was in charge, Congo was not a Belgian colony: what was
Leopolds relationship/involvement with Congo, and how long did it last? He
owned it privately
10.What word is used to describe the exhibiting of African people in the Museum
of Central Africa? Zoos
11.What reasons are given for preserving the Museum of Central Africa? There
is a need to preserve the collective memory of the genocide in
Congo. If the evidence and collective memory are lost, it paves the
way for people who say, Well, it wasnt really as bad as all that, was
it?
12.When were Leopolds crimes made public? What happened as a result? Did
things get better? How/why? What was the decisive factor in changing
things? 1908; control goes to Belgian state; cruelty continues; only
changes when the workforce and therefore potential for profit is
depleted
13.Roughly when did the words genocide, holocaust, and racism come into
common usage? In relation to what events did racism take on its current
meaning? Post WWII, in relation to Nazism and the Holocaust
14.Find the quotation from HoD (shortly after Marlow first speaks) and highlight
it.

Roger Casement

Born in 1864, in Ireland


In the 1890s, he did consular work in Africa
He reported to the UK government on Belgian
mismanagement of the Congo
His report contributed to public recognition of Leopolds
atrocities, and to Leopolds loss of the Congo Free State
He was knighted for his humanitarian work in 1911, and
executed for treason in 1916
He and Conrad met and liked one another; they
corresponded over the situation in the Congo Free State.

Read the highlighted sections of


Conrads letters to Casement.
What is Conrads attitude to the
situation in the Congo?

Targets & Progress


Sheets
Generally very promising most
improved from previous pieces.
If you didnt, chances it was:
Due to panic;
Not enough language analysis
Not supporting points with quotations
(even if points are valid)
Good points and quotes, but not
covering enough of the poem

Lesson 5) Conrad &


Colonialism
Based on the materials we read last
lesson, what would you say Conrads
attitude towards colonialism, slavery,
and racism were?
Identify relevant quotations in HoD
and in the letters.

Look at the extracts from the


diaries
Look at extracts marked (1)
What strikes you about the way
Conrad records death and violence
here?

From His remark did not seem at all


surprising... to ...the hate. He paused.

What is Marlow imagining here?


What is the significance of this
passage?
Identify 2 key quotes to support your
answer

From Mind, he began again... to


... inconclusive experiences
What is Marlows attitude towards colonialism and
violence?
What is the difference between a colonist and a
conqueror?
The implicit difference here is likely to make people feel
uncomfortable: how can we explain/contextualize it?
Hint: When did racism take on its current meanings
and resonances?
Significance of the colours on the water?

Conrad was appalled by Leopolds


actions. However, Great Britain was
still the largest imperial power in the
world, and he felt very differently
about his adoptive country

1857: Conrad born in Ukraine,


then part of Poland but under
Russian control
1861: His father a revolutionary
and an author (who translated
Shakespeare among others) is
arrested. Family exiled after
father released
1865: Mother dies
1869: Father dies; thousands of
pro-independence protestors
attend funeral
1878: Moves to Britain and
begins working on ships after
failed suicide attempt
1881-1890: works on boats,
including steamer in Congo (JuneDec. 1890)
1924: Declines knighthood
(reasons unclear); dies 3 August

Spoke Polish, French, English;


version of Russian (because
of Russian control of Poland);
knowledge of Latin
On writing in English:
English was for me neither a
matter of choice nor adoption.
[] And as to adoption well,
yes, there was an adoption;
but it was I who was adopted
by the genius of the
language[.]
[I]f I had not written in English
I would not have written at all.

From Now when I was a little chap...


to ... The snake had charmed me.
What is the significance of this section?
What is the significance of the contrast of
light and darkness?
How does everything weve read up to this
point impact on your understanding of the
title?
How is Conrad using Marlow in this text? If
Marlow is Conrads alter-ego, why is he the
intradiegetic narrator and not the diegetic
narrator?

From You understand it was


a Continental concern to
Bon voyage.

What do you make of the language


regarding race?
What do you make of the description
of the European city?
Try to use what you know about the
historical background to the novella
to inform your responses.

Lesson 5-6) What is the significance of


setting in the opening and closing pages
of the novella?

We are going to prepare and plan a


response to this question.
You will write about the opening
sections we have read, and the
ending (you can make links to central
parts of the story if you have read
ahead).
What would count as setting?

Speed Planning
Approach/Strategy

Content

What does the


question mean?
What are you being
asked to look
for/consider/analyze?
How does this
question differ from
the poetry qs (in terms
of how its assessed)?

What will you include


in your answer?

Diegetic Setting: Place


London
Thames
Gravesend
All named/located: significance?

Setting: Time
When is the story told?
What is the time frame for the telling
of Marlows story?
Significance of this?

Intradiegetic Setting: Marlows


story
None of the locations named why?
Description of the European city?

Setting means the language of


setting
Try to link to broad themes/meaning/aims of the text
as a whole
Think about symbolism, especially the way Conrad
plays with light and dark
Link to the context:
Belgium/Congo, Europe/Scramble for Africa
Autobiographical elements
Conrads feelings about colonialism/racism/violence;
feelings about England

think about why Conrad would write about


something so easily identifiable to his
contemporaries, but not name people/places.

Try to write a detailed paragraph


based around each of the elements
we considered last lesson (listed on
your planning sheet).
Which order makes sense to you?
How should context be worked in?

Example Paragraph (diegetic setting)


The diegetic setting of the novel is the Gravesend stretch of the Thames,
where the river broadens into open water. The anonymous frame narrator
and his friends look out to the sea-reach of the river, which looks like
an interminable waterway, while Gravesend and London described as
the biggest, and the greatest, town on earth sits behind them. This
use of setting establishes much of the novellas symbolic framework:
the friends look out to the openness and boundlessness of the water,
which seems to promise freedom perhaps this is the bond of the sea
that unites the friends and yet also leads towards a mournful gloom, or
what becomes in the final words of the novella the heart of an immense
darkness. By using the language of death in the opening passages,
Conrad seems to suggest that the darkness into which Marlows story
will lead is that of death and destruction brought by European colonisation
generally, and especially Leopolds exploitation of the Congo (which led
Conrad to say, in a letter to Roger Casement, there is no more Europe).
It is this immense darkness that the Thames a major trade gateway in
the Victorian and Edwardian periods leads.

Example Paragraph
The diegetic setting of the novel is the Gravesend stretch of the Thames, where
the river broadens into open water. The anonymous frame narrator and his
friends look out to the sea-reach of the river, which looks like an interminable
waterway, while Gravesend and London described as the biggest, and the
greatest, town on earth sits behind them. This use of setting establishes much
of the novellas symbolic framework: the friends look out to the openness and
boundlessness of the water, which seems to promise freedom perhaps this is
the bond of the sea that unites the friends and yet also leads towards a
mournful gloom, or what becomes in the final words of the novella the heart of
an immense darkness. This darkness may well be the colonies of Britain and
Europe, to which the Thames a major trade gateway in the Victorian and
Edwardian periods, leads. However, yet remain anchored against backdrop of
London which, as the biggest, and the greatest, town on earth, embodies
European modernity and industry. The difference between the river and the sea
is also significant: Marlows narrative also concerns a nameless river (which
readers take to be the Congo), and so the diegetic narrative mirrors the
intradiegetic narrative. fo are located at the point where the Thames estuary
begins to broaden into open water: as the friends look out

5.3-6.1) HoD: Presentation of


African Settings and Race
Mark/find the following passages:
40: (second half): The best way I can explain it
centre of the earth.
40-42: I left in a French steamer for
nightmares.
42-43: At least we opened a reach. Farewell.
43-44: A slight clinking high and just
proceedings.
44: Ive seen the trees I had seen.
44-45: I avoided a vast, artificial hole Near the
same tree drawn up.

African Setting

40: (second half): The best way I can explain it centre


of the earth.
40-42: I left in a French steamer for nightmares.

How is setting presented in these


passages?
Pick 3-4 brief quotes: what is the
symbolic importance of them?
What state of mind was Marlow in at
this point in his journey; what did the
sea mean to him?

42-43: At least we opened a reach.


Farewell.
How is the African continent
presented in this passage?

Presentation of Race

42-43: At least we opened a reach.


Farewell.
How is racial difference presented in
these pages?
How does it compare to the
following?
43-44: A slight clinking high and just
proceedings.
44: Ive seen the trees I had seen.
44-45: I avoided a vast, artificial hole
Near the same tree drawn up.

For Tuesday (15/12/15)


How are race and colonialism
presented between pages 40-45 (1317)?
1-1.5 sides only (short is better, as
there is more to say about race in
the novella)

Suggested Essay
Structure
1) Overview/intro.
Uneasy combination of:
anti-colonialist feeling
pro-imperialist feeling
anti-racism
Victorian primitivism and exoticism
2) Setting as symbolic of colonial history
London (modernity; profiting from colonialism; looks out to darkness of
colonial lands; light on water linked to map in European city)
European city as symbolic of death/destruction Europe takes to Africa
(colour symbolism; links to other part of Marlows story)
Presentation of African continent on first arrival
3) Contrasting and conflicting presentation of Africans (pages 4045/13-17)

Term 2

1.1) Part II: Characters &


Setting
Recap of opening of Part II.
Conversation between station
manager and his uncle
Reading up to beginning of journey.
For next lesson: read from Towards
the evening of the second day to
I suppose Mr. Kurtz is dead as
well by this time.

Beginning of Pt. II
Find the long paragraph that begins,
I was broad awake by this time
About two thirds of the way through,
the nephew/station Manager
complains of Marlow and the things
he said (And the pestiferous
absurdity)
What do you notice about this
section?

The journey
What similarities/differences do you
notice in the presentation/use of
setting early in Parts I and II?

1.2) Presentation of race


in Part II
1. Review attitudes towards race at this time
2. Why must we be careful when talking/writing
about racism in this novella/late C19?
3. HW passage: find examples of what appear to
be:
1. Racism
2. Primitivism
Quotes on whiteboards

4. How do these fit with/contradict what we know


about Conrad and his views (either expressed
in the book or elsewhere)?

In class, Tuesday: How are race and colonialism presented in the novella
so far?

1) Overview/intro.
Uneasy combination of:
anti-colonialist feeling
pro-imperialist feeling
anti-racism
Victorian primitivism/exoticism/racism
2) Setting as symbolic of colonial history
London (modernity; profiting from colonialism; looks out to darkness of colonial
lands; light on water linked to map in European city)
European city as symbolic of death/destruction Europe takes to Africa (colour
symbolism; links to other part of Marlows story)
Presentation of African continent on first arrival
3) Contrasting and conflicting presentation of Africans (pages 40-45/1317)

1.3) Chinua Achebe, An Image of Africa:


Racism in Conrads Heart of Darkness

Achebe was a Nigerian writer (novelist,


poet, literary critic)
He is best known for his novel Things Fall
Apart (1958)
In 1975, he gave a lecture, which was
published in 1977 as An Image of Africa
In the original version of An Image of
Africa, Achebe calls Conrad a bloody
racist; a later version revises this to
thoroughgoing racist.

Joseph Conrad was a


thoroughgoing/bloody racist. Discuss
Discuss and list on the whiteboards
reasons for agreeing and disagreeing
with Achebes verdict.

We will discuss quotes 1 & 6 together


Quotes 2,3,4,5, & 7 you will discuss
and feed back on.
What do make of Achebes
assessment?

Achebe on a widespread attitude towards Africa and Africans. He believes


that HoD exemplifies this attitude, and this is important because of the high
regard in which Conrads novella is held: one critic claimed that HoD was
among the half-dozen greateat short novels in the English language.

What is Achebes main point here?


If there is something in these utterances
more than youthful inexperience, more than
a lack of factual knowledge, what is it? Quite
simply it is the desire one might indeed say
the need in Western psychology to set
Africa up as a foil to Europe, as a place of
negations at once remote and vaguely
familiar, in comparison with which Europe's
own state of spiritual grace will be manifest.

2.1) Class Mock

How are race and colonialism presented in the novella so far?


1) Overview/intro.
Uneasy combination of:
anti-colonialist feeling
pro-imperialist feeling
anti-racism
Victorian primitivism/exoticism/racism
2) Setting as symbolic of colonial history
London (modernity; profiting from colonialism; looks out to darkness of colonial
lands; light on water linked to map in European city)
European city as symbolic of death/destruction Europe takes to Africa (colour
symbolism; links to other part of Marlows story)
Presentation of African continent on first arrival
3) Contrasting and conflicting presentation of Africans (pages 40-45/1317)

We are not reading this today;


this is a reminder:
Lonely Londoners

2.2) How are women presented


in HoD?
Extracts 1 & 3: What is Marlows attitude
towards women?
Extract 2: What is Kurtzs attitude towards
women, based on his painting?
Extracts 4 & 5: How is Kurtzs apparent
mistress/concubine presented? Is there any
overlap between the presentation of race and
gender?
Extracts 6-9: How is the intended (Kurtzs
fianc) presented? Similarities/differences
between the intended and the concubine?

3.1) How are women presented in the


novella? (prep. For Friday); introducing
Mr. Kurtz...

How are women presented in


the novella? Timed practice,
Friday.
For Tues. 2nd Feb.:
Read Lonely Londoners

Planning Questions
1. Summary statement: how are women presented in
the novella? Or: what is the prevailing attitude towards
women?
2. Do you think this is more or less in keeping with
dominant attitudes of the day?
3. Review key extracts: can you group them together
according to any of the following?

Language
Imagery
Attitudes
Contrast

4. Are there any overlaps between attitudes


towards/presentation of women and race?

Kurtz
What do we know about Kurtz (or,
what can we remember about him)?

3.2) Kurtz early in the


novella
Look at the extracts and fill in the
Whats going on in the novella?
boxes.
How is Kurtz presented early in the
novella?

3.3) Timed piece


How are
women
presented
in the
novella?

1. Summary statement: how are


women presented in the novella?
Or: what is the prevailing attitude
towards women?
2. Do you think this is more or less
in keeping with dominant
attitudes of the day?
3. Review key extracts: can you
group them together according to
any of the following?

Language
Imagery
Attitudes
Contrast

4. Are there any overlaps between


attitudes towards/presentation of
women and race?

He presented himself as a voice?


I have a voice, and for good or bad
Talk (not meet)
Do you see the story?

Weeks 5-6: Writing


Skills

Essay Writing 1: Theses &


Introduuctions
Things to remember:
Big jump in standards/grade
equivalent approx. 2
grades (e.g. A at GCSE =
C/C- at A Level)
You havent gone
backwards, but you may
have temporarily
stalled.
Not surprising, though:
weve already covered in
1 terms as much/more
than you covered in Yrs. 1011 combined!

Level
Level
Level
Level
Level

5: A
4+: B
4-: C
3+: D
3-: E

Common Issues
Pieces are too brief/not developed
enough (what is said is fine, but more
is needed)
Quotes used, but language not
analysed in (much) detail
Context needs to be used to clearly
support your points the rule with
context is, where possible, little but
often

Planning/Writing introductions.
You will do better if you try to engage with the
task in detail
Pick an argument/develop a thesis
Avoid bland responses that take up space
and time, but dont tell us much. E.g.:
Q: How does Conrad use X in HoD?
In HoD, Conrad uses X in many ways. He does this to
draw the reader in.

TIP: If you can transplant a sentence to almost


any essay, regardless of the question (as in the
example), its not answering very much.

How does Conrad use his narrator


Marlow in Heart of Darkness?
This will be your next essay.
Hand in first lesson after half-term
No upper word-limit, but a guide of
around 1,000-1,200
The aim here is to write with focus
and detail.

How questions
What is how asking you? How
many ways can answer it?
How are particular effects created?
What techniques are used to create
these effects?
What might the author be trying to
say/achieve/explore?

Effects of Marlow
Distancing effect (intradiegetic structure); but why
might Conrad want critical distance (context)?
Mask his own voice/experiences
Amplify his own voice/experiences
To give voice to moral ambiguities of the situation
To create sense of truth/verisimilitude
(realistic/close to the facts) Marlow, like
Conrad himself, is able to bear witness to the
horror of colonialism.
Someone who can comment not only historical
events, but also on the human condition

Which of these is right/most convincing?


Which would you write about?
Now, we can transform this
In HoD, Conrad uses X in many ways. He does this
to draw the reader in

into something worthwhile


Im going to find a way of bringing in:
Distancing effect
First-person witness
Moral ambiguities/uncertainties

If I can do this, then it sets up three main


sections for my essay.

Useful vocabulary/alternative phrasing


Moral ambiguity (uncertainty over right/wrong)
Instead of showing/represents/presents (which
are fine), try to be more precise:
Symbolises (e.g. the river symbolises)
Embodies (e.g. Kurtz embodies)
Exemplifies (e.g. this moment exemplifies)
Encapsulates (e.g. this brief scene encapsulates)
Illustrates (e.g. here, the characters words
illustrate)
Instead of sees: bear witness (e.g. Marlow
bears witness to)

Start your essay by tackling the


terms of the question directly

Conrad uses Marlow in several ways.


But who or what is Marlow (in terms of structure and/or
technique)?

Intradiegetic narrator
Recurring character/best-known character in Conrad
Conrads alter-ego?

Conrad uses Marlow his famous intradiegetic


narrator and possible alter-ego in several ways.

Be prepared to add to this as we go...

Now, frame the debate/outline the key


points that you will cover; build a thesis
around the question/task
Conrad uses Marlow his famous
intradiegetic narrator and possible
alter-ego in several ways. As we will
see, Marlow allows Conrad to
distance himself [from things he had
experienced].

How can we improve the italicized


portion in brackets (think
context/Conrads life)

Nice way of
sign-posting
things for
your reader

Say what Conrad experienced and where


Conrad uses Marlow his famous intradiegetic narrator
and possible alter-ego in several ways. As we will see,
Marlow allows Conrad to distance himself from events
he himself experienced while working as a
steamboat captain in the Congo.
A further development: how did this experience affect
Conrad?
Conrad uses Marlow his famous intradiegetic narrator
and possible alter-ego in several ways. As we will see,
Marlow allows Conrad to distance himself from events he
himself experienced while working as a steamboat
captain in the Congo, events from which the writer
never fully recovered.

Bring context back to the


novella:
Mention that Conrad himself said that the events of
HoD are very close to the truth:
Heart of Darkness is experience too; but it is experience
pushed a little (and only very little) beyond the actual facts of
the case
Conrad uses Marlow his famous intradiegetic narrator and
possible alter-ego in several ways. As we will see, Marlow
allows Conrad to distance himself from events he himself
experienced while working as a steamboat captain in the
Congo, events from which the writer never fully recovered. As
Conrad wrote of the novella, Heart of Darkness is
experience too; but it is experience pushed a little (and
only very little) beyond the actual facts of the case.

Conrad uses Marlow his famous intradiegetic


narrator and possible alter-ego in several ways. As
we will see, Marlow allows Conrad to distance himself
from events he himself experienced while working as
a steamboat captain in the Congo. As Conrad wrote
of the novella, Heart of Darkness is experience too;
but it is experience pushed a little (and only very
little) beyond the actual facts of the case. One of
the key differences between Conrads and
Marlows experiences is this: while Conrad
never recovered medically from his Congo trip,
Marlow appears never to recover spiritually.

Last Development:
I said I would outline three ways in
which Conrad uses Marlow:
1. Distancing effect (critical distance)
2. First-person witness
3. Moral ambiguities/uncertainties

So far, Ive only covered (1). So I need to


sign-post or flag the other two...

Conrad uses Marlow his famous intradiegetic narrator and


possible alter-ego in several ways. As we will see, Marlow
allows Conrad to distance himself from events he himself
experienced while working as a steamboat captain in the
Congo. As Conrad wrote of the novella, Heart of Darkness is
experience too; but it is experience pushed a little (and only
very little) beyond the actual facts of the case. One of the
key differences between Conrads and Marlows
experiences is this: while Conrad never recovered
medically from his Congo trip, Marlow appears never to
recover spiritually. But while Marlow may allow Conrad
some critical distance, he also provides the writer with a
character who can bear witness to the horrors of
colonialism and give voice to its moral ambiguities.

These connective phrases


set up contrasts (but)
and
extensions/developments
(also)

This introduction is a little over 100 words, but...


...it is very focussed; it addresses the question
directly and specifically...
It also develops an argument/thesis: the claim
there are several ways in which Conrad uses
Marlow and that the three most
interesting/significant are...
It uses a little bit of context in this case,
biographical details to make the argument more
convincing.

Write about the ways in which Conrad


shows us that colonialism results in greed

Using the work from last lesson as a


guide and model, plan a response to
this question
In note form, plan an
argument/thesis, and identify quotes
(with page numbers) that you would
use
Identify what contextual information
you would use to support your points

Write about the ways in which


Conrad presents foreignness.
Using the work from last lesson as a
guide and model, plan a response to
this question
In note form, plan an
argument/thesis, and identify quotes
(with page numbers) that you would
use
Identify what contextual information
you would use to support your points

Essay writing 2: Close Analysis


of text; integration of context
Last lesson we constructed focussed introduction, which
ran to 108 words:
Conrad uses Marlow his famous intradiegetic narrator and
possible alter-ego in several ways. As we will see, Marlow allows
Conrad to distance himself from events he himself experienced
while working as a steamboat captain in the Congo. As Conrad
wrote of the novella, Heart of Darkness is experience too; but it is
experience pushed a little (and only very little) beyond the actual
facts of the case. One of the key differences between
Conrads and Marlows experiences is this: while Conrad
never recovered medically from his Congo trip, Marlow
appears never to recover spiritually. But while Marlow may
allow Conrad some critical distance, he also provides the
writer with a character who can bear witness to the horrors
of colonialism and give voice to its moral ambiguities.

Write about the ways in which Conrad


shows us that colonialism results in
greed
Among the more interesting ways in which
Conrad shows us that colonialism results in
greed are his presentation and development
of character especially Marlow, Kurtz, and
the anonymous station Manager and his use
of symbolism particularly the symbolisms of
colour and place, which are tightly intertwined.

How would you extend that intro. to


cover context?

Quick review
What does that introduction have
going for it?

Using the introduction as our guide, lets plan


and start writing the first section:
Marlow as distancing mechanism

The challenge here is to show that Conrad uses


Marlow in this way through quotation/reference.
The reason that this may be a challenge is that
the point here is structural as much as linguistic
i.e. we are talking just as much about narrative
structure as we are authorial diction (authors
choice of words)

Thinks to consider:
1. How does Marlow put critical
distance between Conrad the
author and the events depicted
in the novella? (Structure and/or
language)
2. Why might Conrad want this critical
distance? (Authorial
intention/context)

1) How does Marlow put critical distance


between Conrad the author and the events
depicted in the novella?

Marlow is not the diegetic/frame narrator, but the...


This gives the text a nested structure (stories
within stories).
So Marlow is not 1 but 2 removes from the author
and the reader:
Conrad and/or
reader
Diegeti
c
narrat
or

Marlo
w

2) Why does Conrad do


this?
What is Marlows role in the novella?
What kind of person is Marlow?
Is he very human perhaps all too
human (Nietzsche) because of his
inconsistencies?

Marlow: commentator and


character/protagonist.
Presents political immorality of
colonialism
Shows us individual moral
confusion
Marlow very human because
inconsistent?

Some people believe that Marlow is really


Conrad.
Not wrong, but could be greatly improved.
How?
Some critics believe that Marlow is Conrads
alter-ego.
If we think that this is not necessarily true
that Marlow might be something other than
Conrad in his own novels then we can set
this up from the beginning; we can also show
some additional knowledge...

Claim/Argument/Statement
Example(s) (quotes)
Explanation/Development/Exploration

Some critics among them Chinua Achebe believe that Marlow is little more than
Conrads alter-ego and mouthpiece. This is largely due to the similar seafaring careers that
Conrad and Marlow (his best-known storyteller) led. However, because Marlow is an
intradiegetic narrator, there is a sense of critical distance between the author and his
character, and this allows Conrad to raise questions rather than simply giving answers.
One important example of this is Marlows concern with truth, which word is mentioned
repeatedly across the novella. Marlow speaks often of searching for a truth that is
forever symbolically hidden, either in the literal and metaphorical heart of an
impenetrable darkness (which is both the mystery of colonial Africa and the mysterious
darkness of Kurtz) or beneath the surface of the oily and languid sea (the water being a
recurring symbol for time and memory in the novella). It may be, then, that Conrad was
still trying to interpret and understand the truth of his Congo experiences when he wrote
Heart of Darkness, and that by situating Marlow as an intradiegetic narrator, he was able
to examine his own experiences from a more critical distance. It is never entirely clear
what truth Marlow was and perhaps still is searching for. Perhaps Marlow himself is
not always quite sure. But it is hard not to think that it ends up being the horror of
European colonialism. After all, it is this horror that echoes in Kurtzs last words (The
horror! The horror!) and in Marlows memory for so many years. We know from Conrads
letters to Roger Casement that, so disgusted was Conrad with King Leopold IIs
colonization of the Congo and its people, that he was tempted to say there is no more
Europe. Through Marlows failed search for truth, then, and by using the intradiegetic
structure of the novella to make Marlow a somewhat distanced and obscure narrator,
Conrad symbolically and literally shows his readers rather than simply telling them about
the senseless horror and brutality of the colonial project and is able to gain critical
distance from his own experiences.

Use different colours to


identify...
Quotation
Language analysis
Development of
analysis/interpretation
Context
Identification of techniques
Annotate for relevance and quality of
writing

Look at the introduction we wrote for


this question.
Select another big idea, and gather
possible quotations.
Write 1-2 substantial paragraphs,
aiming for something developed as in
the exemplar.

Think about the ways in which Marlow


articulates (expresses) the moral uncertainties
of colonialism and its effects.
This is a big claim, so you want several
examples.
Gather quotations, and try to do the following
Build paragraphs around one or two key quotations
Integrate additional quotations as further support
(e.g. I used heart of an impenetrable darkness
and the oily and languid sea, but only analyzed
the notion of truth and what it means to Marlow)

Marlow is both commentator and character.


This allows Conrad to explore and present the reader
with both the political immorality of colonialism,
and also the personal moral confusions his
experiences in the Congo gave rise to.
Through Marlow and all of this characters
inconsistencies (such as...), Conrad can pose
questions rather than dictate answers (or at least
obvious answers).
PUT THIS IN NOTE FORM