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Dream and reality in Joseph Conrads Hearts of darkness - Marlows quest for truth
2002 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (One Year))Student thesis
Abstract [en]

Joseph Conrad used his own journey up the Congo River in Africa as the inspiration and he foundation of the story and of the characters in the novel. But despite these realistic aspects, a striking feature of Heart of Darkness is its dreamlike qualities. It is precisely this fine, and sometimes almost invisible, line between reality and dream that I find extremely intriguing and interesting enough to explore in my essay. The essay explores the dreamlike character of Marlow’s journey into Africa and his way of dealing with the things and persons he meets. The essay also explores the function of the surroundings and the atmosphere in the novel and Marlow’s perception of them. It investigates situations, people and things the initiate Marlow’s dreamlike state of mind and it analyses if the “daydreaming” helps him to find a deeper truth in order to understand Africans, Europeans and himself. The dreamlike quality of the journey makes it a symbol for Marlow’ trip into his subconscious. Furthermore, the concept of the novel as a story of a hero’s quest for identity is quite consistent with the psychological notion that the human identity resides in some deep, largely inaccessible place hidden somewhere within the psyche. The African jungle can be seen as a metaphor for the unconscious mind, while Kurtz can be read as a dramatization of Marlow’s unconscious desires, as the Freudian id. Marlow’s discovery of his inner self is preceded and ignited by the whole series of events during the trip. He discovers the whole different reality in Africa that he cannot cope with, but tries to avoid it and to stay sane by daydreaming and concentrating on work. Ironically, this only leads to the more introspective phase of Marlow’s journey and eventually to the meeting with his dark self (Kurtz), which saves him from giving in to the darkness within and becoming a ruthless killer without any human restraint. The imagery and language of the text have also a dreamlike quality, which strengthens the ambiguity and the obscurity of reality in the novel. Marlow’s use of the word “reality” and his misconception about things around him are another factor that calls into question the very nature of human experience, of perception of what is real an what is appearance, what is fact and what is dream. And on a broader scale, it reminds the reader that truth is a relative rather than an absolute commodity in Heart of Darkness.

Abstract [en]

Joseph Conrad used his own journey up the Congo River in Africa as the inspiration and he foundation of the story and of the characters in the novel. But despite these realistic aspects, a striking feature of Heart of Darkness is its dreamlike qualities. It is precisely this fine, and sometimes almost invisible, line between reality and dream that I find extremely intriguing and interesting enough to explore in my essay. The essay explores the dreamlike character of Marlow’s journey into Africa and his way of dealing with the things and persons he meets. The essay also explores the function of the surroundings and the atmosphere in the novel and Marlow’s perception of them. It investigates situations, people and things the initiate Marlow’s dreamlike state of mind and it analyses if the “daydreaming” helps him to find a deeper truth in order to understand Africans, Europeans and himself. The dreamlike quality of the journey makes it a symbol for Marlow’ trip into his subconscious. Furthermore, the concept of the novel as a story of a hero’s quest for identity is quite consistent with the psychological notion that the human identity resides in some deep, largely inaccessible place hidden somewhere within the psyche. The African jungle can be seen as a metaphor for the unconscious mind, while Kurtz can be read as a dramatization of Marlow’s unconscious desires, as the Freudian id. Marlow’s discovery of his inner self is preceded and ignited by the whole series of events during the trip. He discovers the whole different reality in Africa that he cannot cope with, but tries to avoid it and to stay sane by daydreaming and concentrating on work. Ironically, this only leads to the more introspective phase of Marlow’s journey and eventually to the meeting with his dark self (Kurtz), which saves him from giving in to the darkness within and becoming a ruthless killer without any human restraint. The imagery and language of the text have also a dreamlike quality, which strengthens the ambiguity and the obscurity of reality in the novel. Marlow’s use of the word “reality” and his misconception about things around him are another factor that calls into question the very nature of human experience, of perception of what is real an what is appearance, what is fact and what is dream. And on a broader scale, it reminds the reader that truth is a relative rather than an absolute commodity in Heart of Darkness.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2002. , 26 p.
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-53875Local ID: ENG D-12OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-53875DiVA: diva2:1102435
Subject / course
English
Available from: 2017-05-29 Created: 2017-05-29

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