In the novel “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad, different issues are discussed. A novel, full of symbolism, still is very interesting for contemporary readers and critics. This research paper is focused on Marlow’s lie discussion as an embodiment of a character’s development on the background of darkness…
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Marlow’s lie is in the focus of further discussion on the example of his interpretations of Kurtz’s phenomenon. He claims that he does not lie, though he confirms that there were three cases when he lied: the station manager, Kurtz and the Intended heard wrong things from Marlow (Stape, 2004). Marlow lies throughout the novel though contextual background of the novel differs greatly. He is thrown back and forth from savage customs identification and civilized behavior distinction. His further ideas and behavior are developed under conditions of blurred borders between noise of savage and civilization: “Yet despite Marlow’s insistence, all binary oppositions collapse in the course of his narrative: colonists prove to be conquerors, the gang of virtue is indistinguishable from the gang of greed, the illusions of women merely echo the illusions of men, and there is no clear distinction between lies and truth” (Kaplan 1997, p. 323). This way, Marlow’s attitude to lie can be interpreted in these frames. Moreover, his acts of lying can be considered on three main backgrounds: his desire to preserve his own ideas about Kurtz, lie as an act of humanity and lie as a means of reality hindrance. Marlow’s lie: lie for what? Generally speaking, Marlow is a complicated and interesting character depicted in the novel. The author intentionally contrasts a human nature to black background. Maybe, Conrad’s intention was to show the darkness of human inner world and not the darkness of African continent: “The monstrous prevails and the human and artistic potential miscarries. There is a downward tug in Kurtz's involvement with the wilderness and he descends into a brute existence” (Billy 1997, p. 26). Madness dominates in the inner world of Kurtz. Kurtz reflects a dualistic human nature. Lights and darkness exist one by one. When darkness starts prevailing, then anarchy exists everywhere. A strange and dualistic nature of human darkness can be defined as “something strange that derives its existence from the hinterland of man's mind, as if it had emerged from the abyss of prehuman ages, or from a superhuman world of contrasting light and darkness. It is a primordial experience which surpasses man's understanding and to which in his weakness he may easily succumb" (Boyle 1964, p. 160). Marlow should not be considered as a liar. He talked about darkness of London in Roman epoch. Romans conquered Britons and Conrad talked about the Belgians conquering Africans. Generally, Conrad intended to show an inner struggle of the self within his inner world. A personified symbolism (Bloom 1987, p. 34) of the ways human soul fights against duality and lie is shown by Conrad throughout the paper. Marlow’s lie is interpreted by Brown (2004) as follows: "Despite his [Marlow's] earlier avowal of a profound aversion to lying, Marlow has already admitted to sacrificing truth to expediency on three previous occasions" (Brown 2000, p. 14). Still, Brown’s arguments are often criticized. It is necessary to discuss what is lying for Marlow in more details. A breakdown of Marlow's character could be seen when he lied to the Intended. Marlow wanted to give a wrong impression about what happened. Marlow’s intention to give a different representation of real facts to public about himself was seen from the very beginning of the novel, when he sat like Buddha. In that case he wanted to show that he takes nothing with him, but peace. Further wanderings and adventures of Marlow revealed real intentions of this character. Therefore, lying accompanies Marlow throughout the novel. In case when he needed more rivets for his boat, he asked the brickmaker about them but did it through lying.
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Joseph Conrad’s book Heart of Darkness is a complex read because of the way Conrad uses ambiguity in the novel so that its theme and plot are not clear cut. Conrad’s main character himself, Marlow, communicated this ambiguity in the narrative by saying, "It seemed somehow to throw a kind of light on everything about me" but that light was "not very clear either.
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Many modern and leftist critics, including the celebrated Nigerian author Chinua Achebe find the novel to be upholding imperialism and racism in a very subtle and hidden way. Heart of Darkness, a story the reader presumes to be have happened in the Congo as depicted by Marlow from a barge on the Thames.
The bulk of the book concentrates on Marlowe’s telling of his adventures on the Congo River as a steamboat captain sent in to find a station master who has gone missing. As he struggles to make his way up the river to the interior where this man is supposed to be waiting for him, Marlowe begins to gain a deeper understanding of what is actually occurring in the forest outside the realm of what he’s been told by the Company.
One of the most common reactions to Joseph Conrads book Heart of Darkness is confusion. The story follows the travels of a man named Marlow who takes on a job as a freshwater sailor in the Congo to go in search of a Company man named Kurtz.
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