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Renée Santo

AP English, 12

Heart of Darkness
By: Joseph Conrad
Journal Entries

Journal Entry #1
“A haze rested in the Though it is only the second paragraph of Heart of Darkness, I
low shores that ran could not resist writing about this passage. Conrad automatically
out to sea in begins his novel with darkness. Though some audiences may not be
vanishing flatness. hooked, I love how Conrad lures the reader with an eerie, luminous
The air was dark setting. Gravesend is the last major town in the Thames estuary,
above Gravesend, and twenty-six miles east of London. Though the audience has not been
farther back still informed of the narrator’s name, it is visible that he or she feels
seemed condensed they live in one of the darkest places on the earth.
into a mournful We all know from history that London was and is a civilized
gloom brooding place. I would think that the narrator would begin in a happy, proud
motionless over the tone relishing about where he or she lived. The dark imagery is
biggest, and the what drew me in to this quote. Though London seems to be a
greatest, town on prosperous society, maybe Conrad had a different observation or
earth.” negative opinion of London. Darkness seems as though it will be a
(Conrad 1) reoccurring theme in Heart of Darkness.

Journal Entry #2
“His eyes of the usual Conrad’s language may be hard for his readers to understand but
blue were perhaps this quote is easy to interpret. Because it is easy to understand, I
remarkably cold and was able to create an image of the manager in my mind. He was an
he certainly could average looking man in complexion, features, manners, and in
make his glance fall voice. What struck me about this quote was the way the narrator
on one as trenchant described the manager’s eyes. When the narrator recalled “his blue
and heavy as an axe.” eyes were a bit cold,” it made me wonder if he was capable of being
(Conrad 21) a mean person even though he seemed normal on the outside. This
phrase caught my attention because of the mystery behind the
manager’s eyes. Perhaps later on in the story we will have the
ability to discover something deeper about this character.
Journal Entry #3
“Going up that river Conrad paints a clear picture of the Congo River in this quote.
was like travelling When they traveled it, the Congo was an empty stream and “the
back to the earliest long stretches of waterway went ran on, deserted, into gloom of
beginnings of the overshadowed distances.” The narrator makes the Congo seem so
world, when the gloomy and eerie. Looking into the history provided beyond Heart
vegetation rioted on of Darkness, it is easy to see why the river was made to seem so
the earth and the big dark. In the lower Congo and a strip of land on either side of the
trees were kings… river above Stanley Pool was the only place with freedom of trade.
The broadening Apparently, this situation was aggravated by the Domaine de la
waters flowed courronne a vast territory between Ksai and Ruki rivers.
through a mob of Though the vocabulary in this passage enhances the setting of
wooded islands.” the novel, I believe this quote also has to do with the character
(Conrad 33) development of Marlow. Marlow struggles as he travels upstream
which reflects the trouble he has understanding why he is traveling
the Congo.

Journal Entry #4
“No fear can stand up When I read this passage, I felt that it was really powerful,
to hunger, no patience almost as if Marlow was bearing his soul and expressing his true
can wear it out, feelings to me. This quote explains that if you are hungry enough
disgust simply does you cannot feel disgust. Of course, Marlow does not mean hungry
not exist where for food, but the hunger for accomplishment and the determination
hunger is, and as to to succeed. Marlow distinguishes what it takes to earn certain levels
superstition, beliefs, of respect. Respect comes from one’s principles, beliefs,
and what you may accomplishments and more.
call principles, they Marlow is emphasizing the savagery of the pilgrims as well. The
are less than chaff in so-called “savage” cannibals have accomplished enduring hunger.
a breeze. Don’t you Therefore, as a reader I believe they should be respected. Perhaps
know the devilry of Conrad is trying to compare civilization and savagery through the
lingering starvation, “devilry of lingering starvation” and its “black thoughts.” The dark
its exasperating thoughts of course represent devilry. Darkness is a large part of the
torment, its black novel. It’s even in the title. Readers who fail to see the darkness of
thoughts…It’s really starvation and its “exasperating torment” do not understand that
easier to face Conrad uses darkness metaphorically.
bereavement,
dishonour, and the I had to look up these two vocabulary words to understand why
perdition of one Conrad included them in his writing:
soul…” Bereavement-v. To be deprived of a loved one through a profound
(Conrad 42) absence
Perdition-n. A state of eternal punishment and damnation into
which a sinful and unpenitent person passes after death.

Journal Entry #5
“But there is no In this passage we learn about both Mr. Kurtz and the
disguising the fact, manager. From the manager’s point of view, Kurtz has done
Mr. Kurtz has done more harm than good to the Company. He doesn’t realize when
more harm than good it is time to take action and when it is time to be cautious.
to the Company. He The manager on the other hand takes caution as his motto. In
did not see the time fact he was upset at Mr. Kurtz for his carelessness. The manager
was not ripe for is the agent of the Company’s African territory. He is very
vigorous action…We successful because though he is average on the outside with “his
must be cautious yet.” eyes of the usual blue,” he has the power to make things very
(Conrad 61) uneasy. At the same time, the manager can gain control in an
instant. I think that it is because of this ability that the manager
was upset at Mr. Kurtz’s carelessness. Mr. Kurtz is known as a
leader in the novel and I believe this is why the manager and
Kurtz tend to bump heads, especially in this section where the
manager confesses his opinion of Kurtz. It seems as though
Kurtz’s downfall is not following rules as the manager states,
“we must be cautious yet.”

Journal Entry #6
“The brown current This metaphor not only links the sea and Kurtz’s life but also is
ran swiftly out of the a key passage about how Kurtz’s life is about to change. The brown
heart of darkness current of the river swiftly carried the crew out of the heart of
bearing us down darkness. Kurtz’s life is running swiftly at the same time yet it is
towards the sea with ebbing and flowing out of his heart and into a sea of time. The
twice the speed of our audience can infer that Kurtz is dying. Figuratively, to ebb is to
upward progress. And gradually lessen or reduce. Though Marlow and Kurtz have been
Kurtz’s life was able to physically leave the heart of darkness, Kurtz’s life is
running swiftly too, diminishing with the darkness. I think that the quote from page 42
ebbing, ebbing out of relates to this event in the novel. The darkness is devilish and
his heart into the sea “lingering” and unfortunately has affected Kurtz’s life.
of inexorable time.”
(Conrad 67)

Journal Entry #7
“I have wrestled with When Marlow speaks these words of wisdom, it is as if he
death. It is the most changes his persona. He goes from an eloquent storyteller to an
unexciting contest experienced sailor who has overcome the worst of the worst. We
you can imagine.” learn a lot about Marlow’s character in the end of the novel. For
(Conrad 70) instance, he felt Kurtz “was a remarkable man. He had something to
say. He said it.” It makes sense that Marlow would envy Kurtz’s
character because we all know that if you speak your mind, the
results are not always great. It is puzzling to me why Marlow
describes the fight against death as “unexciting.” Yes, your life is
on the line but the adrenaline rush would personally be something
that I would like to experience. I am not saying that I would like to
die or come close to it of course. Perhaps it is unexciting to Marlow
because it is a battle he has been involved in before. Marlow has
recovered from his near-death experience
Journal Entry #8
“I thought his A man goes to many funerals in his life, and as Marlow explains
memory was like the the accumulated deaths are “a vague impress on the brain of
other memories of the shadows that had fallen on it in their swift and final passage.” But,
dead that accumulate the vision of Kurtz in Marlow’s mind is different. Aforementioned
in every man’s life…I in my journal entries, Kurtz is a leader even if he may not always
seemed to hear the do what is best. I think that the death of Kurtz left such an impact
whispered cry, ‘The on Marlow because Kurtz seemed to alienate himself from the
horror! The horror!’” Company and the rest of the crew. But, once Marlow heard “ ‘The
(Conrad 72) horror!’” he realized that Kurtz was just like the rest of the white
men.