Sunday, March 14, 2010

Heart of Darkness Part I Focus Questions: pages 1-25

1. Heart of Darkness is a frame tale. Where does the frame tale take place and who is speaking in the very beginning?
  • on the Nellie, outside of London on the river Thames
  • a former shipmate of Marlow's
2. What is significant about the setting of the frame tale?
  • very serene, reflective of Marlow's current status in life
3. The phrase "bearing the sword, and often the torch" (pg. 5) is an example of what figurative language device?
  • metonymy
  • sword=soldiers, torch=knowledge
4. Who said "And this also...has been one of the dark places of the earth" and what is the antecedent of the pronoun?
  • Marlow
  • "the monstrous town": London
5. Who was the only man who still "followed the sea" (pg. 6)?
  • Marlow
6. The only one who still "followed the sea" is described as being paradoxical because he did not represent his class. Explain this paradox.
  • was a seaman, but was also a wanderer
  • speaker considers seamen to live a sedentary life
7. When Marlow first begins speaking, what is he speaking about?
  • London being one of the dark places of the earth
8. Can a person be initiated into "the darkness" (pg. 8)?
  • no, has to live "in the midst of the incomprehensible, which is also detestable"
9. What does a person need in order to be a conqueror? What is one of the themes of Heart of Darkness that is revealed here?
  • brute force
  • theme=strong oppressing the weak
10. Why does Marlow start telling his story?
  • nothing else to do while they wait for the flood to ebb
11. When Marlow says that his experience affected him by being "...not very clear. And yet it seemed to throw a kind of light," (pg. 9) this is an example of which figurative language device?
  • paradox
12. When Marlow was young, he had a passion for maps and there were many blank spaces on the earth that he had a "hankering for" (pg. 10). What does this reveal about Marlow?
  • always been attracted to the unknown
13. How does Marlow reveal that the English have a condescending attitude about the continent of Africa?
  • "its cheap and not so nasty as it looks"
14. How did Marlow get his "appointment"?
  • through his aunt's help, she asked a friend of hers whose husband was powerful
15. Who was Fresleven and how did he get killed? What happened to his body? What does his death reveal about the setting of Africa?
  • former skipper of Marlow's steamboat
  • when having an argument with a native, the son of the man cautiously poked him with his spear
  • his body was left there, the grass grew through him
  • that it changes people, nature overtakes
16. Marlow needed to visit a doctor before going to Africa. Describe his encounter with the doctor and the advice the doctor gives him. Why is this significant?
  • the doctor measured his head and asked if there was any madness in his family
  • "Avoid irritation more than exposure to the sun."
  • shows that many who go to Africa either die or go insane
17. Right before Marlow is about to leave for Africa "a queer feeling came to [him] that [he] was an imposter...instead of going to the centre of a continent, I were about to set off for the centre of the earth" (pg. 17). What do you think this foreshadows?
  • that this trip is much "bigger" or more than just a normal trip
  • nervous, subconscious is telling him not to go
18. Marlow speaks about "the uniform somberness of the coast, seemed to keep me away from the truth of things...the voice of the surf...was a positive pleasure..." (pg. 19). What is significant about this setting?
  • shows that Marlow is more at home on the open sea, forebodes difficulties in the interior
19. Marlow remembers a man-of-war "shelling the bush" (pg. 19). Describe this setting and explain what is significant about it.
  • French warship firing at what appears to be nothing on the shore
  • motif of waste
20. When Marlow has been traveling for 30 days he switches to a steamer whose captain is a Swede. The Swede remarks "It is funny what some people will do for a few francs a month. I wonder what becomes of that kind when it goes up country?" (pg. 21). What is significant about this comment?
  • the Swede is questioning the morality of man because of the setting
  • without civilization --> becomes unrestrained
  • "up country"= little civilization
21. Pages 21-23 describe the new setting. What specific point is Marlow making while describing the setting?
  • Marlow is pointing out that it is full of waste
  • the objectless blasting being all the work that is going on shows waste
  • connect back to the man-of-war blasting the bush again
  • big hole that was dug just to give the "criminals" something to do
22. Marlow describes the workers as "black shadows of disease and starvation" (pg. 24) and continues to describe them until the bottom of page 25. How do you think Marlow feels about the workers?
  • sees them as less than human
  • is indecisive about his feelings
  • shows imperialistic attitude


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