Christian worldview in the heart of darkness by joseph conrad with references to Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Hamlet, and 1984




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TitleChristian worldview in the heart of darkness by joseph conrad with references to Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Hamlet, and 1984
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CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW IN THE HEART OF DARKNESS BY JOSEPH CONRAD

  • With references to Tess of the D’Urbervilles, Hamlet, and 1984

  • By Maureen Breslin


Characters

  • Kurtz: virtuous, moral, ethical; degenerates to evil; is infected with darkness because of lack of accountability



Marlow

  • voice of reason: Platonic man

  • understands attraction of evil

  • has previous moral commitment



General Manager

  • no conscience

  • greed

  • envy



Cannibals

  • more personal restraint than white men



Symbols of Evil

  • Darkness

  • England

    • one of the dark places of the earth
  • Africa’s dark heart



Congo River

  • serpent in the Garden

  • White man ( Belgian Ivory company, Kurtz, imperialists )

    • is serpent
  • Africa is garden



Jungle

  • Garden

    • pristine, primeval purity
  • Disease: physical // moral, spiritual



Archetypal Symbols

  • forest: state of being lost; evil; ironic

  • heart: residence of spiritual being

  • colors: black wool, black hens, blank dark spot



Archetypal Symbols

  • white: ironic

  • black: ironic

  • green: money, materialism

  • motley of the Russian



Other Symbols

  • bright colors of the native woman contrasted with

  • the dark colors of the Intended

  • Gestures of both women: prayer



Other Symbols

  • Vertical lines of the forest//cathedral-like lines of living room

  • Skulls, facing inward

  • The abyss: “the horror, the horror.” Its attraction for Marlow



Reasons Marlow Doesn’t Succumb

  • Previous commitment to moral standards

  • Empathy

  • Desire to know truth



Reasons Kurt Succumbs

  • Isolation; lack of accountability

  • Pride/hubris

  • Greed and materialism

  • Power: receives worship of the natives

  • Lust



Reasons Marlow Protects Kurtz’ Name

  • Kurtz’ honesty

  • Kurtz’ acceptance of his fate



Conclusions

  • Within the garden (forest: primeval, virgin) is the virtuous, enlightened, talented, perfect man.

  • In its heart is an evil (serpent) that draws the most perfect of men in an appeal to his hubris.

  • Kurtz comes “with fire and lightning”, inviting and accepting worship, reverence, and sacrifice.



Conclusions

  • He has the power of life and death and with his WORD is able to command love and obedience.

  • He becomes totally corrupt and falls from grace because he is both appalled and drawn to his sin.



Conclusions

  • He sees his blackness of heart as he comes to the edge of the abyss but cannot withdraw. However in his final words, “The horror, the horror”, he honestly confronts his evil but does not have the ability to repent. We understand without the Holy Spirit, we would not be able to repent either.



Conclusions

  • Marlow recognizes his potential to be sucked into the abyss, but allows his previous morality and commitment to morals to help him step back.



Conclusions

  • The darkness, sickness, and heat of the jungle merely reflect the evil within the heart of man. Thus the physical disease that has withered away Kurtz’ body is symbolic of the spiritual disease that has infected his heart.



Tess of the D’Urbervilles

  • Blackmoor Vale contains

  • a primeval/virgin forest

  • 



Tess = White Hart

  • *A white hart inhabits this forest and is a symbol of Tess, “a pure woman”

  • A serpent (Alec, the antagonist) brings about Tess’ downfall in the garden



Hamlet

  • Disease corrupts the land of Denmark

  • Major theme: appearances are different from reality

  • While a righteous king sleeps in the orchard (garden) the country is told he is stung by a serpent



Hamlet

  • His brother, Claudius, has poisoned him because of

  • hubris/greed

  • Claudius desires his brother’s

    • position/King
    • wife
    • kingdom/power


Hamlet

  • Called the “primal, eldest curse

  • The murder of a brother: Cain and Abel

  • This murder spawns

    • Moral corruption in the kingdom


Hamlet: The Exiled Child

  • Distinguished parents

  • NEW order tries to kill child

  • Child is strong

  • Child slowly recognizes own extraordinariness

  • Strength comes from that recognition



The Exiled Child

  • Now the “divine” child (hero) knows he needs to teach and help regenerate the old order:

    • Find parents
    • Seek revenge
    • Kills parents


The Exiled Child

  • Child achieves

    • Divinity
    • Kingship
    • Leadership role
    • Establishes order


1984

  • To eliminate words is to eliminate the ability to think

  • Desire for power is at the root of totalitarianism: Hubris

  • Totalitarianism demands:

  • The elimination of truth

  • The abolition of religion

  • The illegalization of love

  • *Elimination of truth leads to loss of freedom



Conclusion

  • Hamlet must die as must the evil interloper (Claudius) and a new King must establish order in Denmark.

  • Kurtz must die

  • Tess must die

  • The wages of sin is death!!!!



Conclusion

  • All the books deal with hypocrisy: appearances vs reality. God sees the heart.

  • The best people are capable of corruption: apathy, hatred, manipulation

  • Yet, the ending of a tragedy/tragic story contains the seeds of redemption/ renewal/rebirth.

  • *1984: a satire; contains no hope



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