Saturday, June 8, 2013

Timed-Write Excerpts

Excerpt from an In-class Timed-Write by Max Eagle 

Conrad’s various allusions, via Marlow, comment on the impending doom and irony brought on by colonization. This is especially significant in Marlow’s first words, “And this too was one of the dark places of the earth.” Referencing ancient England, Marlow explains that the island that was once full of savages was eventually conquered by foreign invaders –  the Romans. Such a connection not only comments on the violent past of mankind but also suggests that this past savagery isn’t limited to Africans. Then, what defines civilization, if it only grows from savage roots? This question relates to the theme in that it reinforces that civilization is just a façade; all humans are savages whether or not that savagery is ever realized. Marlow’s failure to reveal this truth to Kurtz’s intended only further emphasizes the lies upon which civilization rests.

A later allusion to the Greek fates, paralleled by the two elderly women in black, foreshadows the imminent doom that awaits all Europeans that dare to challenge Africa. Thoroughly examining Marlow, the women judge his fate and resume their knitting, creating the fabric of his future. Other references to Marlow’s journey imply that this is a modern-day Odyssey, replete with obstacles and tasks; however, this is all the more ironic because Marlow’s return to Europe fails to resolve the conflict at hand: the façade of civilization. 

Excerpt from an In-class Timed-Write by Eli Flesch

Symbolism in Heart of Darkness is ubiquitous and integral to an understanding of the story. The River Congo is prominent in this respect. The river serves as the vehicle, both literal and figurative, for Marlow’s journey to Africa’s dark interior. His journey is rife with obstacles which are also of a symbolic nature. The fog his boat encounters represents the confusion one experiences while losing his innocent view of human nature. When Marlow’s boat is attacked, this only furthers this point. 

Ultimately, Kurtz’s health proves to be one of the greatest symbols in the novella. It represents the sickness of Imperialism and the dying of an institution. For Marlow to find Kurtz in this position is a very large anti-climax. For someone with such a large reputation, Kurtz fails to show Marlow something special. Likewise, for all the grandeur associated with Imperialism, the stark reality is grave. These thoughts are echoed as Kurtz utters his final words: “The horror! The horror!” which lends a first-hand account of the darkness so prevalent in man’s core. Marlow’s refusal to tell Kurtz’s fiancee Kurtz’s true final words suggests that this truth is too hard to bear and impossible to understand. 

Excerpt from an In-class Timed-Write by Joey Liefer

Both Heart of Darkness and Lord of the Flies feature a character represented as a martyr; however, the reasons for each character’s martyrdom are different. In Heart, Kurtz, despite his erratic ways, is beloved by the native Africans. When he falls ill and dies, the natives become distraught. Kurtz had been their leader against the evil exploitation of The Company. Kurtz’s death is caused by tropical disease, which is ironic. His insatiable desire to become rich and powerful through ivory leads to his death and the death of a heart of darkness. In Lord, the martyr is a chubby boy with glasses named Piggy. Piggy is a pacifist that can be seen as the voice of reason. He is Ralph’s right-hand man and someone who wishes to see civilization again. Piggy is tragically killed by Jack and his beast. His death symbolizes the death of civilized behavior and the completion of the descent into savagery. 

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