Prelim-studyquestions - Danielle Wu 4/6/08 English 350...

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Danielle Wu 4/6/08 English 350 Prof. Schwarz Prelim - Study Questions 5. Discuss Marlow’s thematic, structural, and rhetorical functions in Heart of Darkness and/or Lord Jim . Conrad: (1857-1924) Lord Jim -1900; Heart of Darkness -1902; [ HoD was finished before LJ but published after!] Conrad’s concern about language and communication i. Marlow tells a story where he seems to understand Kurtz and Jim, if only to a certain extent; he still knows enough to tell the story ii. Marlow speaks to an audience who carry on the story or at least continue to have interest in it ( HoD : frame narrator; LJ : privileged reader) Marlow provides a sympathetic voice that the reader can resist: this is further heightened in LJ , where Marlow’s story follows the omniscient 3 rd person narrator of first four chapters; we can also see others resisting it in his telling i. enables Conrad to include specific audience reactions that Marlow can then defend himself against: in HoD , Marlow’s defense of his “absurd” action (p. 558 - more about this in notes on question 7); in LJ , Marlow’s response to the privileged reader (p. 201) ii. HoD : Marlow’s own descent into the Congo, into his own ‘heart of darkness’ - iii. LJ : Marlow’s sympathy further complicates any judgment on Jim; can talk about Marlow’s three moments of weaknesses (vulnerability of Marlow as narrator and its consequences are discussed in notes for question 10); Marlow’s apparent purpose in speaking is just to discuss the story of Kurtz and of Jim, which makes Marlow’s confessions about his own experiences regarding these two men all the more valuable, lending insight into the central conflicts of the novel (i.e. in HoD , Marlow almost going over the edge and Kurtz actually going over the edge - what to think in terms of Kurtz’s “moral victory” ; in LJ , Marlow telling Jewel that Jim will never leave her/Patusan b/c he’s “not good enough” for the outside world) 7. Compare the functions of setting in Heart of Darkness and Lord Jim . Heart of Darkness : the wild, savage setting of the Congo: the contrast between the wild Congo and the civilized West provide the physical and psychological setting of the novel; the threat of the Congo is comprehensive, total; it is a world before ‘civilization’ and threatens to make people revert back to pre-civilization conditions; Marlow’s physical journey into the deeper parts of the Congo mirrors (or perhaps just is ) his descent into the deeper, darker parts of himself - toward the ‘heart of darkness’ that is within all men
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[possibly important quote: “I felt as though, instead of going to the center of a continent, I were about to set off for the center of the earth” (504)] the setting of the Congo presents both physical and psychological dangers; the psychological threat of the Congo dominates the physical; in fact, one could argue that the physical dangers of the Congo take on symbolic significance
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Prelim-studyquestions - Danielle Wu 4/6/08 English 350...

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