Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad 

Resources

  1. A lecture  about Conrad
  2. Web English Teachers
  3. Synopsis of the Novella

Key Words: Close reading, Narrative, Narrator, Colonialism, Racism
Time Frame: 15 classes (1 pre-reading, 10 lessons, 1 Wrap-up, 3 days of assessment)

Summary of the Unit

In this unit, students will confront the difficult text of Heart of Darkness. They will examine the ways in which the author uses narrators, symbolism, plot, characterization and dialogue to both disguise and reveal the meaning behind the story. Students will use the techniques of close reading to interpret brief passages of text. They will use close readings to make inferences and connections regarding the entire text. In the culminating performance task, students will complete a test based on the structure and context of the AP Exam in order to help them prepare for that test.

Enduring Understanding– Students will understand

  • Sometimes it takes one great individual to bring the collective from the darkness to the light.
  • Time filters truth and is the judge of history and people. Truth can stand the crucible of time.
  • How language has the power to reveal a writer’s deepest thought and emotion.
  • How a writer can hide behind his ambiguous language and manipulate his reader to determine what his attitude might be.
  • Our history is a composite of human errors and the acknowledge of it will help us move forward.
  • Writers create their own unique symbols to express meaning
  • How the novel reflects the world as Conrad saw it.
  • In Heart of Darkness, Kurtz is depicted as an upstanding European who has been transformed by his time in the jungle—away from his home, away from familiar people and food, and away from any community moral support that might have helped prevent him from becoming such a tyrant. There was nothing and no one, in essence, to keep him on the straight and narrow. Such a situation can change a person fundamentally.

Essential Questions to be considered:

  • Who or what is a ‘Civilized Man’ according to Heart of Darkness?
  • What does the ‘Darkness’ represent in the Heart of Darkness?
  • How do the human frailties of the narrator color the reader’s understanding of the text?
  • How is the Heart of Darkness a critique of colonialism or a racist polemic?
  • Why is our history a composite of human errors, intentional or unintentional?
  • Why not everyone or nation learns from his or its mistakes?
  • What is your impression of these opening pages from Heart of Darkness? Do the Africans seem stereotyped to you? What signs are there that the narrator is sympathetic to them?
  • Why do people have different notions of truth and even knowingly turn from it?
  • Why is darkness a good metaphor for “lies” or demoralizing act while the light for “truth”?
  • Kurtz’s dying words are a cryptic whisper: “The horror, the horror.” What “horror” could Kurtz have been talking about? Is there more than one possibility? Why do you think Conrad made this scene so ambiguous?
  • How could a strange environment where you are different from everyone else around you affect you or change you? Would the sitiation pull a person toward base and cruel instincts as Kurtz was? What would you do to cope with those feelings?
  • What makes one culture “civilized” and another “savage” in the eyes of the world? Are these distinctions valid? Do you think that the culture you live in is “advanced” or “civilized”? Why?
  • How is Conrad’s language in the Heart of Darkness so condensed or even cryptic ? How does such feature enhance or hinder your understanding of the central meaning?
  • How is the Heart of Darknessis strictly a political novella or a story about the human condition? Can a work of fiction be interpreted in different ways? Should readers consider the author’s intent when analyzing a story? Why?
  • How is the Heart of Darknesscan an incredibly dark and depressing story that paints civilizations in a very negative light? or rather it is quite a positive story?
  • How does the Heart of Darkness illustrate some critics views that “the darkness of the landscape can lead to the darkness of social corruption”? How can one’s environment affect one’s actions, feelings, and morals? (Have you ever experienced a change in yourself that resulted from a change in your environment?)
  • How can we use our understanding of truth , illusions, human errors and other insights to direct our own views and attitude toward the world we live in?
  • Who or what is a ‘Civilized Man’ according to Heart of Darkness?
  • What does the ‘Darkness’ represent in the Heart of Darkness?
  • How do the human frailties of the narrator color the reader’s understanding of the text?
  • How is the Heart of Darkness a critique of colonialism or a racist polemic?
  • Why is our history a composite of human errors, intentional or unintentional?
  • Why not everyone or nation learns from his or its mistakes?
  • What is your impression of these opening pages from Heart of Darkness? Do the Africans seem stereotyped to you? What signs are there that the narrator is sympathetic to them?
  • Why do people have different notions of truth and even knowingly turn from it?
  • Why is darkness a good metaphor for “lies” or demoralizing act while the light for “truth”?
  • Kurtz’s dying words are a cryptic whisper: “The horror, the
  • horror.” What “horror” could Kurtz have been talking about? Is there more than one possibility? Why do you think Conrad made this scene so ambiguous?
  • How could a strange environment where you are different from everyone else around you affect you or change you? Would the sitiation pull a person toward base and cruel instincts as Kurtz was? What would you do to cope with those feelings?
  • What makes one culture “civilized” and another “savage” in the eyes of the world? Are these distinctions valid? Do you think that the culture you live in is “advanced” or “civilized”? Why?
  • How is Conrad’s language in the Heart of Darkness so condensed or even cryptic ? How does such feature enhance or hinder your understanding of the central meaning?
  • How is the Heart of Darknessis strictly a political novella or a story about the human condition? Can a work of fiction be interpreted in different ways? Should readers consider the author’s intent when analyzing a story? Why?
  • How is the Heart of Darknesscan an incredibly dark and depressing story that paints civilizations in a very negative light? or rather it is quite a positive story?
  • How does the Heart of Darkness illustrate some critics views that “the darkness of the landscape can lead to the darkness of social corruption”? How can one’s environment affect one’s actions, feelings, and morals? (Have you ever experienced a change in yourself that resulted from a change in your environment?)
  • How can we use our understanding of truth , illusions, human errors and other insights to direct our own views and attitude toward the world we live in?
  • Do you agree some critics’ comments that Marlow’s white lie at the end illustrates “Conrad’s ideas about how we all must be protected from the savagery inside us, just as Marlowe protected Kurtz’s fiancée from the ugly truth about the decline of the man she intended to marry”? Explain your answer.

Students will be able to( skills)-

  • Interpret a very difficult text using close reading skills.
  • multaneously consider multiple techniques for examining a text to create a nuanced reading of the text.
  • Difficult texts need to be examined on multiple levels to achieve an understanding of the author’s intended meaning.
  • Different methods of analyzing a text can and should be used to achieve a deeper understanding of the text.
  • The Heart of Darkness can be read as both racist and anti-racist.
  • Skills learned through the Heart of Darkness should be applied to other texts as well.

Students will be able to understand (meaning)-

  • why good people make detrimental moral mistakes or choose to live in lies or not to see the truth.
  • how the novel reflects the world as Conrad saw it.
  • why critics have often written about Marlow’s white lie at the end. Some critics say it illustrates Conrad’s ideas about how we all must be protected from the savagery inside us, just as Marlowe protected Kurtz’s fiancée from the ugly truth about the decline of the man she intended to marry.
  • Joseph Conrad’s style in The Heart of Darkness: “Through settings, symbols, and Conrad’s impressionist style, Conrad is able to illustrate the impact of Marlow’s epiphany on his portrayal of humanity and on his responsibilities to mankind. Conrad’s use of a frame novel helps to convey the theme of universal darkness.”

Assessments

Formative Assessment: Journal responses -reflective and dialectical  on truth vs. illusion etc.; learning logs on background information relating to The Heart of Darkness FAT -P( format, audience, topic, purpose)

Other methods of Assessment: journal writing, reading quizzes, observations on small group discussions, creative responses, etc.

African characters rarely speak and have little or no individual identities. Imagine that you are one of the African characters from the novel and now have an opportunity to write a journal entry describing experiences in the novel from his or her perspective. Your journal entries should not be retellings of scenes from the novel. Instead, create scenes that logically might have occurred during the course of the novel but Conrad chose not to depict. Also you can communicate the feelings of the characters you are pretending to be.

  • Write an alternative scene in which Marlow does tell Kurtz’s fiancée the truth, not only about Kurtz’s last words but also about everything Kurtz had become. Consider the following-
    • What words Marlow might use in talking to Kurtz’s fiancée.
    • What feelings he might have while he talks to her and how he might show or not show those feelings
    • How Kurtz’s fiancée might react to what she hears from Marlow
    • What might happen between Marlow and Kurtz’s fiancée after he discloses the truth

Summative Assessment

1. There will be three AP style essay assignments: one is to compare the poem Evening Hawk with the themes of the book; the 2nd essay will be an AP style analysis of  a passage, an excerpt from The Heart of Darkness ; the 3rd essay will be an open-ended question AP style essay.

2. GRASP-(S) To celebrate Joseph Conrad’s 150th year birthday and start a new city wide initiative of Youth Actions, (A)the Atlantic Monthly magazine and the City Council of New York together have called for a writing contest for (R) high school students who are to submit (P) creative works that focus on social corruptions and also bear distinctive Conradian style of writing such as sensory language, symbolic imagery, using symbols as motifs and social corruptions as theme, etc. In your AP English class, your teacher has asked each of you to submit an entry of such work Winners will be invited to(G) present at a City Council meeting on social corruptions and have the privilege of having the writing published in the Atlantic Monthly.

Rubrics

Scores

A (90-100)

B (80-90)

C (70-80)

D 65

F (below 65)

Creativity

( original language and perspective)

The story contains many creative details and/or descriptions that contribute to the reader’s understanding & enjoyment. The author has really used his imagination. The story contains a few creative details and/or descriptions that contribute to the reader’s enjoyment. The author has used his imagination. The story contains a few creative details and/or descriptions, but they distract from the story. The author has tried to use his imagination. There is little evidence of creativity in the story. The author uses little much imagination. here is no evidence of creativity in the story. The author does not seem to use any imagination.

Style

(Application of Conradian Style of Writing)

effective use of Conradian style to make the idea convincing to the reader and writing interesting to read some effective use of Conradian style to make the idea clear to the reader and writing interesting to read vague use of Conradian style very little use of Conradian style no use of Conradian style

Word Choice

(powerful, engaging words, convey the intended impression in a precise, interesting and natural way
-phrases create pictures, linger in reader’s mind)

The writer uses precise, fresh, original words and phrases. The writing is interesting to read. The word choices are clear. The writer uses some interesting words and phrases. The word choices get the message across, but don’t capture anyone’s attention. The writer does not use words or phrases that make the writing clear to the reader. Writer uses word choices that are confusing, unclear, or inappropriate.

Contents

(Social Corruptions-explanation)

The entire story is related to the assigned topic and allows the reader to understand much more about the topic. Most of the story is related to the assigned topic. The story wanders off at one point, but the reader can still learn something about the topic. Some of the story is related to the assigned topic, but a reader does not learn much about the topic. A small part of the story is related to the assigned topic, but a reader does not learn much about the topic. The story is not related to the assigned topic.

Language

stylistically sophisticated, using original and precise language with a notable sense of voice and awareness of audience and purpose-vary structure and length of sentences for effect use language that is fluent and engaging, with some awareness of audience and purpose-show consistent use of sentences that are varied in length and structure -use appropriate language, with some awareness of audience and purpose-occasionally vary length and structure of sentences rely on language from the text and basic vocabulary-rely on sentences that are unvaried in length and structure use language that is imprecise or unsuitable for the audience or purpose-rely on sentences that lack variety and may be constructed incorrectly

Voice

(credibility , empathy Self-knowledge)

The writer’s viewpoint is evident. Text used elicits a variety of emotions. Paper has a lot of personality. Writes with a clear sense of audience. The writer’s viewpoint is somewhat clear. The writing is individual and expressive. Paper has some personality. The writer’s individually fades in and out. The writer’s viewpoint is apparent intermittently. Very little personality to the writing The writer’s viewpoint is unclear. Little to no personality to the writing. Audience is fuzzy-could be anybody, anywhere. The writer seems uninterested in what he or she is writing about. Writer does not share own thoughts or ideas about topic.

Convention

the extent to which the response exhibits conventional spelling, punctuation, para-graphing, capitali-zation, grammar, and usage

-demonstrate control of the conventions demonstrate control of the conventions, with very few minor errors that have no effect on comprehension -demonstrate partial control, exhibiting some sentence-level errors that do not hinder comprehension demonstrate partial control, exhibiting errors that occasionally hinder comprehension demonstrate a lack of control, exhibiting many errors that make comprehension difficult

Vocabulary: See Appendix*

Materials: Heart of Darkness texts, post-it, worksheets, essay rubrics, Text-Based Study Questions, vocabulary sheet

Resources

Pre-Reading Activity

The Allegory of the Cave by Plato

Objective: Students will be able to conclude that truth is not always right and understand why truth can be biased.

Aim: How do we know what truth is? Why could prevent people from seeing the truth?

Agenda,

1. Do Now: In your journal, define truth and list three reasons why people cannot see the truth.

2. Teaching Point (Acquisition)-

  • Read the Allegory of the Cave and act out the scenario described in the dialogue. Discuss-
    • In what circumstances can people confuse truth(reality) with illusion(shadow)?
    • What can shackles symbolize? Cave? Light?
    • What are the two possible reactions from (cave) people who will be eventually brought up to the light? What can the world be like to them?

3. Small group discussion (meaning making)-

  • Why do some return to the cave?
  • What’s the true meaning of the allegory?
  • Think of a real life example to illustrate the point.

4. Knowledge transfer (Assessment)- Think of a real life situation where people ( or you) confuse illusion with reality. How to avoid it?

HW#1 Describe an incidence in history when people believed they were doing the right thing ( knew the truth) and later was proven to be totally wrong ( illusion).

Pre-Reading

Prepare for the Jigsaw Puzzle-Pre-Reading Activity

Each group will answer selected questions below:

Group 1 – African Holocaust

Group 2 – Belgian Colonialism in Africa

Group 3 – Trading Companies

Group 4 – The Congo

What is the African Holocaust?
Who were the oppressors of the African Holocaust?
Who were the victims of the African Holocaust?
How many people were affected African Holocaust?
http://www.africanholocaust.net/
Where did Belgian Colonialism operate?
Who made the decisions about Belgian colonialism?
What is the history of Belgian colonialism in the Congo?
Prof Wills’s lectureSt. Mary’s University, Canada website:http://husky1.stmarys.ca/~wmills/course317/5Belgian_Policies.html
The Historiography of Belgian Colonialism in the Congo:http://www.cliohres.net/books/6/Vanthemsche.pdf
How did trading companies operate?
Where did they operate? Where were they based?
What did the trading companies trade in Africa?
How did trading companies operate in Africa? Who did they employ? How much money did they make?
http://diglib1.amnh.org/articles/klg/index.html
http://www.moreorless.au.com/killers/leopold.html
Who were the indigenous people in the Congo?
What was the Congo called during the turn of the 19th Century?
What is the outcome of colonialism in the Congo today?
http://diglib1.amnh.org/intro/intro.html

 

Group 5 – Joseph Conrad

Group 6 – Heart of Darkness Reception

Group 7 – Recent criticism regarding Heart of Darkness

Joseph Conrad
Provide a short biography of Joseph Conrad’s life, including his given name.
What were Conrad’s most famous works? What were they about?
How was Conrad received during his lifetime?
http://www.kirjasto.sci.fi/jconrad.htm
How and when was the Heart of Darkness first published?
How was the Heart of Darkness received during Conrad’s lifetime?
What did Conrad himself think of the Heart of Darkness?
http://www.victorianweb.org/authors/conrad/pva46.html
Recent scholarship regarding the Heart of Darkness
What is the current scholarship about the Heart of Darkness?
What is the post-colonial argument about the Heart of Darkness?
http://www.wsws.org/articles/1999/sep1999/king-s06.shtml
http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2003/feb/22/classics.chinuaachebe
http://www.bth.se/fou/forskinfo.nsf/35BC671C87DB0E5AC1256612004904F2/87E4E3B4A2B21C06C12568A3002CA9AEA good list of resources you may find helpful: http://www.historyteacher.net/GlobalStudies/Africa_Colonialism.htm

Day 1  Prior Knowledge

Objective: Students will teach each other the necessary background information for the Heart of Darkness. Students will be able to make suppositions regarding the purpose behind the Heart of Darkness.

Aim: How can background information enrich our understanding of a text?

Agenda:
Do Now: Journal – How do you think a country going through a genocide would look and feel?

Mini-Lesson:

  • The importance of understanding a text’s context, i.e.historical backgroud(Acquisition) ( reference fro http://www.textetc.com/criticism.html)
  • Historical: Works are placed in their historical context — to explain not only their allusions and particular use of words, but the conventions and expectations of the times. The approach may be evaluative (i.e. the critic may suggest ways of responding to the poem once the perspective is corrected), or may simply use it as historical data.
  • Biographical: As with the historical approach, a work may be used to illuminate the writer’s psychology, or as biographic data. No less than the correspondence, remembered conversations, choice of reading matter, the poem is analyzed for relevance to its author.
  • Sociological:Here the focus is on society as a whole, and critics assess the social factors at work in a poem, which may be everything from the attitudes a writer inherits from his social background to the markets which supported his literary efforts.
  • Political:It may be the political movements the author supported which interest the critic, but more commonly the poem is assessed on political lines: how fairly or effectively it promotes political action or attitudes.
  • Group Presentations (Meaning-Making): Groups will have 5 minutes to organize their presentations.
  • Each group will have 5 minutes in front of the class to present. Fish bowl activity. One group presents and the others take notes and listen;
  • Wrap up (Assessment) – Now that you have the background information for the Heart of Darkness, why do you suppose Conrad wrote this book? (5 minutes)

Homework#2: Read pages 719-729. Answer the following questions while reading:

  • Who is the narrator of this story? What do we know about him?
  • Who is Marlow? What do we know about his ability to tell a story?
  • Where is Marlow telling his story?
  • Why is Marlow telling his story? How is Marlow telling his story?
  • What connections does Marlow make between the ‘Darkness’ and London?
  • Keep track of every mention of ‘heart,’ ‘darkness,’ ‘light’ and ‘soul’ either in your notebooks or in the margins of the text. Also consider similar words such as black, white, will, intellect, appetite, etc.

Day 2 (pages 719-729) Narrative

Objectives: Students will analyze the passage by considering how multiple layers of narrators can complicate the reader’s understanding of the text.

Aim: How does our knowledge of the narrator affect the story he tells?

Agenda:

Do Now: Take a quick survey of the map of Africa from 1885-1914. Make a statement about what the map conveys to you. View the Congo river map and raise a question based on what you know about the novella. Post the question and your statement in Turnitin.com

Mini-Lesson: :

  • Frame narrator
  • In the first few pages of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness we are given an overture of the rest of the work.  The character Marlow describes how England was once “one of the dark places of the earth.”  He continues by imagining how the Romans first came up the Thames and how these “were men enough to face the darkness,” cheered on by thought of “promotion,” but how many would succumb to the “mysterious life of the wilderness that stirs in the forest, in the jungle, in the hearts of wild men.” What he has done is provide us with a “map” of the terrain we are about to follow–from the delta of civilization to the headwaters of humankind.
  • Close reading Strategies-
    • Read around and circle key words that stand out for you. Create a semantic map using the words.
    • Annotate the text
    • Use a dialectical journal to read a text closely.
    • Learn the questioning techniques- remember/knowledge, understand/comprehend, demonstrate/application, analyze, synthesize/evaluate
    • As a class, we will complete a close reading of the paragraph that begins on 721 and ends on 722.
    • What does this paragraph tell us about the rest of the story?

Your Task:

In small groups, discuss the following questions

    • How does the frame narrator represent Marlow? What kind of man is he? Should we believe the story he is about to tell? Why or why not?
    • What kind of insights have you gained by using one of the analysis approaches, such as historical, autobiographical, spcialogical or political?

As a group, come up with 3 questions of nay nature based on the selected passage.

Exit Slip (Assessment): What type of person is Marlow? Do you think he is a sympathetic character?

Homework #3:

1.Create a dialectical journal ( 10 entries minimum based on 719-729). Try to focus on different aspects of the text.

2.Read pages 729-739. Answer the following questions while reading:

  • Who do you think Mr. Kurtz is?
  • What are your impressions of Marlow’s trip down the African coast? What emotions do these descriptions evoke in the reader?
  • What happens at the Central Station? How do you think this connects to the information we gathered prior to reading?
  • What are Marlow’s first impressions of Africa?
  • Keep track of every mention of ‘heart,’ ‘darkness,’ ‘light’ and ‘soul’ either in your notebooks or in the margins of the text. Also consider similar words such as black, white, will, intellect, appetite, etc.
  • 3. Read the article “Conrad’s Use of Journey Motif in Heart of Darkness” and bring in your notes on the article. We will share the notes tomorrow.

Day 3 (pages729-739) Symbolism 
Objectives: Students will understand the Heart of Darkness employs many layers of symbolism and apply their understanding of symbolism to the rest of the text.

Aim: What does the ‘Darkness’ represent in the Heart of Darkness?

Do Now: What image comes to mind when you read/hear the title “Heart of Darkness”? What do you think he might mean by the symbol?

Key words: symbolism, representation, purpose

Agenda:

Mini-lesson: (Acquisition)

  1. Teaching Point-
    • Review the Dialectical journal based on pages 719-729. Share the important details of symbolism, diction and central idea.
    • What causes the meanings of a symbol change and how does the symbolic use of a word change the denotative meaning over time?
    • Point of view-narrator, Marlow( European), Whites in general, Africans
    • Cultural and social contexts
    • time
    • multifacets of meanings
    • What are the connotative meanings implied in a symbol, such as black, rhythmic clinking or ominous voice, “new forces”?
  • Close reading: Paragraph from 730-731 – How are symbols such as “darkness” and “jungle” developed in this passage? What meanings do they reveal?

2. In your small Group ( meaning making) :

  • Read the pages 332-333 passage starting from ” A slight clinking …” to “…finally I descened the hill...”.
  • Identify three symbols and explain how they are developed in the passage. What layers of meaning do the symbols take on? How do you think the symbols will develop throughout the story?

3. Transfer knowledge (Assessment): How are the symbols used in the novel still valid? What symbol would you use to describe your life right now?

Homework #4

1. Read pages 739-749. Complete a close reading of the complete paragraph on page 740.

  • What symbols are evoked in this paragraph? How are these symbols developed? How is the character of Marlowe represented and developed through this paragraph?

2. Answer the following questions as you read the rest of the section:

  • “White men with long staves in their hands appeared languidly…”:  this is Marlow’s first acquaintance with what he comes to dub “the pilgrims.”  Keep your eye out for his attitude towards them, and the reasons for it.  Also:  why do they appear this way?  What are they hanging around for?  What is their attitude towards the natives around them?
  • Marlow learns the steamer he’s to pilot up the river has been sunk.  How did this come about?  What does it seem to indicate about the quality of management at the station?
  • The Manager of the Central Station.
    • What initial impression does he make on Marlow?
    • What impression is made by his explanation of how the steamer ended up getting its bottom torn out?  What are we to infer the Manager has really been up to?
    • What are “the redeeming facts of life” that Marlow fought to keep his hold on?  How did he do this?
  • What’s the first-class agent’s job?  What do we learn of the personality of the first-class agent, from Marlow’s relation of his conversation with him? Why does this person want to make the acquaintance of Marlow?
  • Can you paraphrase the sense of Marlow’s disquisition upon lies?
  • What attitude does Marlow find himself taking on towards Kurtz?
  • Why do you think Conrad arranged for the frame narrator to intrude, here?
  • What does the incident with the hippopotamus remind us of?
  • What does Marlow think is crucially important about work?
  • Keep track of every mention of ‘heart,’ ‘darkness,’ ‘light’ and ‘soul’ either in your notebooks or in the margins of the text. Also consider similar words such as black, white, will, intellect, appetite, etc.

Day 4 ( pages 739-749) Diction

Objectives:

  • Students will understand why Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad made the word choices that he did.
  • Students will be able to analyze a passage using close reading skills for diction.
  • Students will be able to apply their understanding of diction to the rest of the text.

Aim: How does diction affect the meaning of a text?

Do now:

1. What difference in meaning and impact do you notice between “It was evident he took me for a perfectly shameless prevaricator” and “He thought I was a liar”? Read the poem below and discuss how diction affects the overall meaning of the poem.

2. Consider: Art is the antidote that can call us back from the edge of numbness, restoring the ability to feel for another
-Barbara Kingsolver, High Tide in Tucson

Discuss: By using the word antidote, what does the author imply about the inability to feel for another?

  1. Myopia

They gave me glasses
and I saw clearly

Sometimes I long
for the kind old mist.
-by Jerene Cline

Agenda:

  1. Review dialectical journals and homework questions based on pages 729-739.
  2. Mini Lesson
  • Teaching Point: (Acquisition)
    • Diction: the choice of words used in a literary work. Literal vs. Connotative meaning
    • Consider: ‘spectral illumination of moonshine’ vs. ‘grayish illumination of moonshine’ or ‘empty immensity of earth, sky, and water’ vs. ‘empty hugeness of earth, sky, and water’ or ‘the background was sombre’ vs. the ‘background was dark.’
    • How does changing one word affect the meaning of the quote?
    • What shades of meaning do we see in Conrad’s version that are lost in our translation?
  1. In class-Close reading: Paragraph from 742-743: “Then I noticed a small sketch in oils” (mid-paragraph) to “you won’t have the opportunity” – What words jump out to you in this passage? What meanings do they reveal? How does Conrad’s diction develop the symbols in this passage? What do we learn about Marlow, the narrator, through his word choice?
  1. In your small group: Read and respond, page 743-744 “He blew the candle out” to “meant as an appeal or as a menace.” What interesting word choices can you find? What connotations are these words taking on? What layers of meaning do the words take on? Are these words taking on symbolic meaning or developing symbols? (Meaning making)
  2. Transfer (Assessment): Word choice can have a huge impact in many aspects in life. Share a few situations where diction really matters.

Homework #5-
1. Complete a dialectical journal with at least 10 entries covering pages 739-749.
2. Read pages 749-759 and answer the following questions as you read the rest of the section:

  • Marlow is lying on the deck of the steamboat he is repairing, when he overhears a conversation between the Manager and his uncle, the leader of the Eldorado Exploring Expedition.
  1. What are the important things he learns from this exchange?
  2. What is the uncle gesturing towards at the end?
  3. When the EEE leaves, news filters back about what became of it.  What is Marlow referring to by the phrase “the less valuable animals”?
  • On page 752, the frame narrator interjects. Why did Conrad arrange for this at this point, and why did he arrange for it to happen on the issue it does? What is the importance?
  • What does Marlow say kept him from succumbing to madness?
  • What is Marlow’s attitude towards the fireman in charge of stoking the boiler on the steamer?  It’s complicated.  What elements does it seem to be composed of?  Which element predominates?
  • About 50 miles below the Inner Station:  a wood stack (for what?) and a warning (what?). What questions does this encounter raise?
  • What does Marlow mean when he says, “The manager displayed a beautiful resignation”?  (What’s the tone here?)
  • What would Marlow be saying if he were to “talk openly with Kurtz”?
  • What temptation is Marlow near to when he has the sudden feeling that “What did it matter what anyone knew or ignored?  What did it matter who was manager?”
  • What insight is Marlow referring to when he says, “One gets sometimes such a flash of insight”?  How does this claim square with the one that follows:  “The essentials of this affair lay deep under the surface, beyond my reach, and beyond my power of meddling.”
  • Keep track of every mention of ‘heart,’ ‘darkness,’ ‘light’ and ‘soul’ either in your notebooks or in the margins of the text. Also consider similar words such as black, white, will, intellect, appetite, etc.

Day 5 pages 749-759 Metaphors

Objectives: Students will be able to

  • identify metaphors in the Heart of Darkness
  • explain how metaphors are developed throughout the novella
  • make the connection between the metaphors and their connection to the central meanings of the text.

Aim: What are the key metaphors in the Heart of Darkness and how are they developed?

Do Now: Compare and contrast the two following metaphors:

  • Isaac Asimov’s updated version of the metaphor: “Life is a journey, but don’t worry, you’ll find a parking spot at the end.”
  • Aerosmith’s: “Life’s a journey not a destination/And I just can’t tell just what tomorrow brings.”

Agenda:

  • Review dialectical journals on pages 739-749 and homework based on pages 749-759.
  • Teaching Point: (Acquisition)
    • Metaphor: the concept of understanding one thing in terms of another. A metaphor is a figure of speech that constructs an analogy between two things or ideas; the analogy is conveyed by the use of a metaphorical word in place of some other word.
    • Consider: “But there was in it one river especially, a mighty big river, that you could see on the map, resembling an immense snake uncoiled, with its head in the sea, its body at rest curving afar over a vast country, and its tail lost in the depths of the land.” P. 724. “There were moments when one’s past came back to one, as it will sometimes when you have not a moment to spare to yourself; but it came back in the shape of an unrestful and noisy dream, remembered with wonder amongst the overwhelming realities of this strange world of plants, and water, and silence.” (p. 751). What metaphors does Conrad use for the jungle? What simile does he use for the river?
    • Close reading: P. 754 “The earth seemed  unearthly” to p. 755 “nor I had any time to peer into our creepy thoughts.” How does this reading reflect Conrad’s use of metaphor? What meanings do these metaphors reveal? How does Conrad’s diction affect the development of his metaphors? How do these metaphors take on symbolic meaning? What do they reveal about the narrator (what is Marlow trying to tell us) and the central meaning of the book?
  • In your small group: (Meaning-making) Read and respond, page 755-756 “Some fifty miles below” to “It was an extravagant mystery.”
    • Find three examples of new metaphors or symbols in this passage and explain their meaning.
    • Give one example of metaphor that has been further developed in the passage.
    • What does the warning represent?
    • What does Towson’s book represent?
    • Find one example of Conrad’s diction and explain its impact on you.
  • Transfer (Assessment): How are metaphors used today? Can you think of ways the media uses metaphors?

Homework #6

  1. Create a dialectical journal for pages 749-759 with at least ten pages.
  2. Read pages 759-769 and answer the following questions:
  • Summarize Marlow’s meditation on the cannibal crew?  What is he impressed with?
  • This moral trait will play a huge role in Marlow’s reflections later on, when he encounters Kurtz.  Keep this passage in mind.  How does it relate to Marlow’s fantasies about what the Roman imperial enterprise was all about in its day?
  • Marlow flashes forward to tell his audience that later on that what they had taken as the motive of the event that scared them was way off the mark.  How so?
  • After the fog lifts and they get under way again, what happens a little up the way, when the boat has to enter a narrow channel?  What’s the reaction of the pilgrims?  What does it remind us of?
  • What happens to the helmsman? What is Marlow’s reaction to this?
  • What possibility concerning Kurtz does this episode raise, for the manager? What is Marlow’s reaction to thinking about this? What explanation does he give for this?
  • In the course of this explanation, we are introduced to the idea of Kurtz’s “voice” (p.765) — of Kurtz as “voice.”  This is a motif to be sure to trace from here on out.
  • Why do you think the frame narrator interjects at this moment? Marlow jumps forward to mention something about his encounter with Kurtz.  What does he telegraph was the nature of this overcoming of his premature disappointment?  Was he thrilled?  Or was he set up for being more deeply disappointed?
  • Keep track of every mention of ‘heart,’ ‘darkness,’ ‘light’ and ‘soul’ either in your notebooks or in the margins of the text. Also consider similar words such as black, white, will, intellect, appetite, etc. Add voice to the list.

Day 6 (pages 759-769 “Author’s Purpose”)

Objectives: Students will be able to

  • analyze author’s intent.
  • discuss and debate the themes relevant to Heart of Darkness
  • argue persuasively for their interpretation of central meanings of the text.

Aim: How can we put together everything we have covered so far to uncover the author’s purpose and deeper meanings in the Heart of Darkness?

Do Now: Now that you are further into the novella, how do you interpret this quote as Marlow looks on at London: “’And this also,’ said Marlow suddenly, ‘has been one of the dark places of the earth.’”?

Agenda:

  1. Knowledge Acquisition:
  • Author’s Purpose
    • Share dialectical journals based on pages 749-759 focusing on the author’s purpose.
    • Why did Conrad write this story? What is the purpose behind lines such as, “No; I can’t forget him, though I am not prepared to affirm the fellow was exactly worth the life we lost in getting to him. I missed my late helmsman awfully – I missed him even while his body was still lying in the pilot-house.”(page 769)? How does this line connect with the story’s deeper meanings?
    • How do the human frailties of the narrator color the reader’s understanding of the text?
    • How is the Heart of Darkness a critique of colonialism or a racist polemic?
    • What makes one culture “civilized” and another “savage” in the eyes of the world? Are these distinctions valid? Do you think that the culture you live in is “advanced” or “civilized”? Why?
    • Close Reading: Page 762 “I was looking down” to “…Can you turn back?” Consider-
      •  How is Conrad’s language in the Heart of Darkness so condensed or even cryptic ? How does such feature enhance or hinder your understanding of the central meaning?
      • How is the Heart of Darknessis strictly a political novella or a story about the human condition? Can a work of fiction be interpreted in different ways? Should readers consider the author’s intent when analyzing a story? Why?
      • How is the Heart of Darknesscan an incredibly dark and depressing story that paints civilizations in a very negative light? or rather it is quite a positive story?
      • How does the Heart of Darkness illustrate some critics views that “the darkness of the landscape can lead to the darkness of social corruption”? How can one’s environment affect one’s actions, feelings, and morals? (Have you ever experienced a change in yourself that resulted from a change in your environment?)
      • How can we use our understanding of truth , illusions, human errors and other insights to direct our own views and attitude toward the world we live in?
  1. ( Meaning Making )In your small group: Read the passage on 768 from “…And there, don’t you see?” to “…of burning noble words
  • Examine the same questions above in their relation to this passage.
  1. Transfer  (Assessment)– Why did Conrad write Heart of Darkness?

Homework #7
1. Create a dialectical journal for pages 759-769 with at least ten entries.
2. Read pages 769-779 and answer the following questions:

  • Marlow throws the corpse of the dead helmsman overboard. Why does he do this?  How does this relate to his attitude towards the dead person?
  • What is Marlow’s attitude towards the remark of the “red-headed pilgrim”?
  • What opinion in general does he have of their conduct during the attack from the bank?
  • What is odd about the man’s appearance on the bank?
  • What connotations attach to the idea of a “harlequin”?  (Check your dictionary on this one.)  What is the simple realistic explanation that accounts for this appearance?  In what respects does the idea of this person as a “harlequin” turn out to be symbolically apt?
  • Where does he say Kurtz is?
  • What is his history?  How has he come to be here?  (We can from now on alternatively refer to him as “the Russian trader.”)
  • What kind of a person was he before he met Kurtz?
  • It turns out to be he who stacked the wood at the clearing 8 miles downstream.  How did he come to leave his place there?  (The nautical manual is his:  how did it get left behind.)  What questions does the answer to this one raise in turn?
  • A question for here and further on:  has his encounter with Kurtz changed him in specific ways?

Day 7 Imagery (pages 769-779)

Objectives: Students will

  • understand how Conrad uses imagery throughout the Heart of Darkness
  • make the connection between symbolism, metaphors and imagery
  • analyze for imagery.

Aim: What major imagery does Conrad use to portray the primeval jungle and “the heart of darkness”? How do they help reveal the central meaning of the story? What effect does the imagery have on the reader ?

Do Now: What sort of image comes to your mind as you read this? How does this image characterize the Russian trader?

His clothes had been made of some stuff that was brown holland probably, but it was covered with patches all over, with bright patches, blue, red, and yellow – patches on the front, patches on elbows, on knees; coloured binding round his jacket, scarlet edging at the bottom of his trousers; and the sunshine made him look extremely gay and wonderfully neat withal…” (p. 771).

Agenda:

Teaching Point: (Knowledge Acquisition)

  1. Imagery-Meaning: What role does imagery play throughout Heart of Darkness? Can you recollect any images that stick out to you as exceptionally important to help you understand the story?
  2. What image does this passage suggest to you? What is it literally? What symbolic importance does this image take on? How does this image affect the characterization of Mr. Kurtz?
  • “I had expected to see a knob of wood there, you know. I returned deliberately to the first I had seen – and there it was, black, dried, sunken, with closed eyelids – a head that seemed to sleep at the top of that pole, and, with the shrunken dry lips showing a narrow while line of teeth, was smiling too, smiling continuously at some endless and jocose dream of that eternal slumber.” (p. 776).
  1. Close Reading: Page 776 “I am not disclosing any trade secrets” to p. 777 “...conduct of life – or what not.”
  • What images does Conrad present in this section?
  • Do these images present the image of a civilized world or savage one?
  • How are ‘lusts’ represented in this passage?
  • What is the importance of ‘brightness?’
  • How does the Heart of Darkness illustrate some critics views that “the darkness of the landscape can lead to the darkness of social corruption”? How can one’s environment affect one’s actions, feelings, and morals?

Meaning Making:                                 

In your small group: Read the passage on 778 from “Now, if he does not say…” to “…breath is drawn in a long aspiration” and reexamine the questions above in their relation to this passage you have read.

Transfer (Assessment): Respond – Why did Conrad write Heart of Darkness?

Homework #8 : 
1. Create a dialectical journal for pages 769-779 with at least ten entries.
2. Read pages 779-789 and answer the following questions:

  • Who is the woman walking along the bank? What is her relationship to Mr. Kurtz? To the Russian Trader?
  • What does the Russian Trader tell Marlow before his departure? Why does Kurtz do this? What layers does this add to our understanding of Kurtz?
  • Who is the nightmare of Marlow’s choice? How/why did Marlow choose him?
  • As Marlow follows Kurtz, the image of the woman knitting black fabric comes to him. Why do you think she reappears? What is the symbolic meaning of this flashback?
  • On page 784, Marlow finds himself in a dangerous position. What exactly is the threat in this situation? Why does Marlow find himself in this situation? How does he protect himself?
  •  How is Kurtz represented? What does he look like and how does he sound? What power does nature have over him? Why is this important information?
  • Why does Marlow pull the whistle on the steam boat? What is he trying to avoid?
  • Why does Kurtz give Marlow his papers? How does Kurtz feel about the manager? What can we infer about Kurtz’s attitude towards Marlow?
  • Describe the scene of Kurtz’s death. What are his last words? How is this important to the themes of the novel?
  • Keep track of every mention of ‘heart,’ ‘darkness,’ ‘light’ and ‘soul’ either in your notebooks or in the margins of the text. Also consider similar words such as black, white, will, intellect, appetite, etc.

Day 8 Characterization (pages 779-789)

Objectives: Students will

  • understand how Conrad employs characterization throughout the Heart of Darkness to convey the central meaning of “horror”.
  • understand how Conrad uses the narrator’s and frame narrator’s commentary to help understand the characters
  • be able to analyze characters and understand the connection between characterization and the central meaning

Aim: How is characterization used throughout the Heart of Darkness? How does the characterization of Marlow affect our understanding of every other character in the book?

Do Now: Choose two words to describe the following characters and be prepared to explain why you choose those words:

  • Marlow
  • The Manager
  • The Bricklayer
  • The Helmsman
  • Kurtz
  • The Russian-Trader

Agenda:

Teaching Point: (Knowledge Acquisition)

  1. Comparing Characters: How would you compare Kurtz and the Manager?
  • What characteristics do they have in common?
  • What characteristics separate them?
  • Who is a better man in the eyes of Marlow?
  • What textual evidence can you find to support your position?
  1. The Character of Kurtz
  • What image does this passage suggest to you about Kurtz? How is he literally presented?
  • What symbolic importance does this image take on?
  • How does this image affect the characterization of Mr. Kurtz?
    • P. 784 “I came upon him, and, if he had not heard me coming, I would have fallen over him too, but he got up in time. He rose, unsteady, long, pale, indistinct, like a vapour exhaled by the earth, and swayed slightly, misty and silent before me; while at my back the fires loomed between the trees, and the murmur of many voices issued from the forest.”
  1. Close Reading: Page 786 “The brown current” to p. 787 “he cried at the invisible wilderness.”
  • What is the heart of darkness literally? Figuratively?
  • How is Kurtz characterized throughout this passage?
  • Why is Kurtz a voice?
  • How does Marlow describe Kurtz? How does this description affect the reader’s opinions of Marlow? How does this characterize Marlow?
  • How does the Heart of Darkness illustrate some critics views that “the darkness of the landscape can lead to the darkness of social corruption”? How can one’s environment affect one’s actions, feelings, and morals?

Meaning Making:
In your small group: Read the passage on 781 from “The manager came out” to “a choice of nightmares.”

  • How is the manager characterized throughout this passage?
  • What causes a shift in the relationship between Marlow and the manager?
  • What choice of nightmares does Marlow have? Which does he choose? Why?

Transfer (Assessment): Respond– How does the Heart of Darkness illustrate some critics’ views that “the darkness of the landscape can lead to the darkness of social corruption”? How can one’s environment affect one’s actions, feelings, and morals? (Have you ever experienced a change in yourself that resulted from a change in your environment?)

Homework #9: 
1. Create a dialectical journal for pages 779-789 pages with at least ten entries.
2. Read pages 788-796and answer the following questions:

  • What are Kurtz’s last words? How are these words important? What do they signify?
  •  What happened to his body? What remains of Kurtz’s voice?
  • On page 789, Marlow considers death. What can we infer about from this passage about Marlow’s experiences with death? What are his conclusions regarding death?
  • Where does Marlow find himself after his sickness has passed? How does the image of the ‘sepulchral’ city contrast with the places Marlow has been?
  • What is the Company looking for? What do we learn from the interviews Marlow describes?
  • How does Marlow feel for Kurtz after his death? What inspired such loyalty from Marlow?
  • Kurtz’s intended cuts Marlow off at the end of page 793. What do you think Marlow was about to say? What does the Intended say instead?
  • How is the Intended characterized? How does her speech affect Marlow?
  • Compare and contrast the Intended and the Russian Trader.
  • Describe the situation between the Intended and Marlow. How does Marlow interpret the situation? What can we infer about the Intended’s interpretation of the conversation?
  • Why does Kurtz lie at the end of this story? How does this lie complicate our interpretation of the entire novella?
  • Keep track of every mention of ‘heart,’ ‘darkness,’ ‘light’ and ‘soul’ either in your notebooks or in the margins of the text. Also consider similar words such as black, white, will, intellect, appetite, etc.

Day 9 Tone (pages 788-796)

Objectives: Students will

  • understand how Conrad sets the tone throughout the Heart of Darkness.
  • be able to identify passages that convey the tone of the novella.
  • understand how Conrad uses the tone to reveal the deeper meanings throughout the text.

Aim: How is tone set throughout the Heart of Darkness?

Do Now: Choose one phrase, 5 words or less, to sum up the tone of the novel in pages 788-796.

Agenda:

Teaching Point: (Knowledge Acquisition)

  1. Tone: Oxford Concise Dictionary of Literary Terms defines the term as:
  • A very vague critical term usually designating the mood or atmosphere of a work, although in some more restructured uses it refers to the author’s attitude to the reader (e.g. formal, intimate, pompous) or to the subject-matter (ironic, light, solemn, satiric, sentimental). Adjective: tonal. See also voice.
  1. Voice: Oxford Concise Dictionary of Literary Terms defines the term as:
  • A rather vague metaphorical term by which some critics refer to distinctive features of a written work in terms of spoken utterance. The voice of a literary work is then the specific group of characteristics displayed by the Narrator or poetic ‘speaker’ (or, in some uses, the actual author behind them), assessed in terms of tone, style, or personality. Distinctions between various kinds of narrative voice tend to be distinctions between kinds of narrator in terms of how they address the reader (rather than in terms of their perception of events, as in the distinct concept of point of view).
  1. Given the structure of the narrators, how would you differentiate between voice and tone in Heart of Darkness? Is there a difference?
  2. What does this passage suggest about the tone/voice of the novella? What diction suggests the tone?
  • “Anything approaching the change that came over his features I have never seen before, and hope never to see again. Oh, I wasn’t touched. I was fascinated. It was as though a veil had been rent. I saw on that ivory face the expression of sombre pride, of ruthless power, of craven terror—of an intense and hopeless despair. Did he live his life again in every detail of desire, temptation, and surrender during that supreme moment of complete knowledge? He cried in a whisper at some image, at some vision – he cried out twice, a cry that was no more than a breath:
    “ ‘The horror! The horror!’”
  1. What is the tone of the novella? Is it consistent with this passage?
  2. Close Reading: Page 788 “However, as you see, I did not go” to p. 787 “translucently pure as a cliff of crystal.
  • What is the tone of this passage? What specific lines would you use to support your conclusion?
  • How does Marlow approach death in this package? What significance does he give to Kurtz’s last words?
  • What are the deeper meanings of this passage?

Meaning Making:
In your small group: Read the passage on 791 from “Thus I was left” to “But I went.”

  • What is the tone/voice of this passage?
  • What are the deeper meanings of this passage?

Transfer (Assessment): Respond– Kurtz’s dying words are a cryptic whisper: “The horror, the horror.” What “horror” could Kurtz have been talking about? Is there more than one possibility? Why do you think Conrad made this scene so ambiguous?

Homework #10: 
1. Create a dialectical journal for pages 788-796 with at least ten entries.
2. Complete reading the Heart of Darkness packet, including the afterward. Answer questions one through ten of the “For Study” questions.

Day 10 Setting/Tone (pages 788-796)

Objectives: Students will

  • Understand how Conrad sets the tone throughout the Heart of Darkness.
  • Be able to identify texts that convey the tone of the novella.
  • Understand how Conrad uses the tone to reveal the deeper meanings throughout the text.
  • Be able to identify setting throughout the text.
  • Understand how crucial the setting is to the deeper meanings of the text.

Aim: How is setting important to the purpose behind the Heart of Darkness?

Do Now: Kurtz’s dying words are a cryptic whisper: “The horror, the horror.” What “horror” could Kurtz have been talking about? Is there more than one possibility? Why do you think Conrad made this scene so ambiguous?

Agenda:

Teaching Point: (Knowledge Acquisition)

  1. What does this passage suggest about the tone/voice of the novella? What diction suggests the tone?
  • “Anything approaching the change that came over his features I have never seen before, and hope never to see again. Oh, I wasn’t touched. I was fascinated. It was as though a veil had been rent. I saw on that ivory face the expression of sombre pride, of ruthless power, of craven terror—of an intense and hopeless despair. Did he live his life again in every detail of desire, temptation, and surrender during that supreme moment of complete knowledge? He cried in a whisper at some image, at some vision – he cried out twice, a cry that was no more than a breath:
    “ ‘The horror! The horror!’”
  1. What is the tone of the novella? Is it consistent throughout this passage?
  2. How is the setting of the story important? Could the story be set in a different place at a different time? Could the frame narrative be set at a different place or time? How might that affect the meaning of the novella?
  3. *How could a strange environment(setting) where you are different from everyone else around you affect you or change you? Would the sitiation pull a person toward base and cruel instincts as Kurtz was? What would you do to cope with those feelings?
  4. Close Reading: Page 788 “However, as you see, I did not go” to p. 787 “translucently pure as a cliff of crystal.
  • What is the tone of this passage? What specific lines would you use to support your conclusion?
  • How does Marlow approach death in this passage? What significance does he give to Kurtz’s last words?
  • Where is Marlow as he is conveying these ideas? Mentally? Physically? How is this important to his reflection?
  • What are the deeper meanings of this passage?

Meaning Making:
In your small group: Read the passage on 791 from “Thus I was left” to “But I went.”

  • What is the tone/voice of this passage?
  • What are the deeper meanings of this passage?

Transfer (Assessment): Respond
*How could a strange environment where you are different from everyone else around you affect you or change you? Would the situation pull a person toward base and cruel instincts as Kurtz was? What would you do to cope with those feelings?

Homework #11: 
1. Create a dialectical journal for pages 788-796 with at least ten entries.
2. Complete reading the Heart of Darkness packet, including the afterward. Answer questions one through twenty of the “For Study” questions.

Day 11 (Review of Essential Questions and Enduring Understanding)

Objectives: Students will be able to recall the elements of the novel we have covered throughout the Heart of Darkness unit. Students will be able to analyze a passage for aspects of all elements. Students will be able to apply their understanding of these literary elements to the deeper meanings that Conrad embeds throughout the novel.

Aim: How does Conrad’s writing style affect the reader’s interpretation of the text?

Do Now: Find a passage in the novella that you believe most represent Conrad’s writing style.  Explain why you have selected the passage and what style it represents.

Teaching Point: (Acquisition)

  1. What specific aspects of literature have we reviewed as we read Conrad’s work?
  2. What skills have we worked on developing throughout the unit?

Group Activity: (Meaning-Making)

  1. In your small groups, spend twenty minutes sharing, comparing and discussing the following essential questions and enduring understanding. At the end, be prepared to present a 3-5 minute overview of your response and conclusions. Be sure to refer back to textual evidence for support!
Group 1 Group 2 Group 3 Group 4
  1. Who or what is a ‘Civilized Man’ according to Heart of Darkness?
  2. Why do people have different notions of truth and even knowingly turn from it?
  3. Kurtz’s dying words are a cryptic whisper: “The horror, the horror.” What “horror” could Kurtz have been talking about? Is there more than one possibility? Why do you think Conrad made this scene so ambiguous?
  4. What does the ‘Darkness’ represent in the Heart of Darkness?
  5. How is Conrad’s language in the Heart of Darkness so condensed or even cryptic? How does such feature enhance or hinder your understanding of the central meaning?
  6. What makes one culture “civilized” and another “savage” in the eyes of the world? Are these distinctions valid? Do you think that the culture you live in is “advanced” or “civilized”? Why?
  7. How do the human frailties of the narrator color the reader’s understanding of the text?
  8. How is the Heart of Darkness strictly a political novella or a story about the human condition? Can a work of fiction be interpreted in different ways? Should readers consider the author’s intent when analyzing a story? Why?
  9. Why is darkness a good metaphor for “lies” or demoralizing act while the light for “truth”?
  1. How is the Heart of Darknessa critique of colonialism or a racist polemic?
  2. How is the Heart of Darknessan incredibly dark and depressing story that paints civilizations in a very negative light? Or rather it is quite a positive story?
  3. How could a strange environment where you are different from everyone else around you affect you or change you? Would the sitiation pull a person toward base and cruel instincts as Kurtz was? What would you do to cope with those feelings?

 

Group 5 Group 6 Group 7
  1. Why is our history a composite of human errors, intentional or unintentional?
  2. How does the Heart of Darkness illustrate some critics views that “the darkness of the landscape can lead to the darkness of social corruption”? How can one’s environment affect one’s actions, feelings, and morals? (Have you ever experienced a change in yourself that resulted from a change in your environment?)
  3. Sometimes it takes one great individual to bring the collective from the darkness to the light.

 

  1. Why doesn’t everyone or nation learns from his or its mistakes?
  2. How can we use our understanding of truth, illusions, human errors and other insights to direct our own views and attitude toward the world we live in?
  3. Time filters truth and is the judge of history and people. Truth can stand the crucible of time.
  4. What is your impression of these opening pages from Heart of Darkness? Do the Africans seem stereotyped to you? What signs are there that the narrator is sympathetic to them?
  5. Do you agree some critics’ comments that Marlow’s white lie at the end illustrates “Conrad’s ideas about how we all must be protected from the savagery inside us, just as Marlowe protected Kurtz’s fiancée from the ugly truth about the decline of the man she intended to marry”? Explain your answer.
  6. Language has the power to reveal a writer’s deepest thought and emotion.

Transfer (Assessment): Respond to the following enduring understanding:

“In Heart of Darkness, Kurtz is depicted as an upstanding European who has been transformed by his time in the jungle—away from his home, away from familiar people and food, and away from any community moral support that might have helped prevent him from becoming such a tyrant. There was nothing and no one, in essence, to keep him on the straight and narrow. Such a situation can change a person fundamentally.”

Homework #12: Complete your small group responses to the assigned statements and questions.

Day 12 (Review of themes and style)

Objectives: Students will gain deeper insights into the novella by analyzing the themes and stylistic traits of the work.

Aim: How does Conrad reveal the themes of Heart of Darkness? What kind of role does the main character, Marlow, play in the work? Why does Kurts reveal the deepest & darkest thoughts to Kurts?

Do Now: Pick one statement form Enduring Understanding and a question from the Essential Questions respectively, whcih you feel most revealing about the work. Explain why.

Agenda

Acqusition:

  1. Read the Notes on Conrad’s style of writing and make a list of the characteristics you have discerned in the novella. Find evidence to support your assertions.
  2. Review the Enduring Understanding Statements and Essential questions. Which statement(s) are thematic ones? Why?
  3. Read in class the “Afterword” on pages 798-791, underline thematic statements and other insights of the novella.

Meaning Making-

( Think-Pair-Share Activity) – Discuss within your group the thematic statements and insightful notes you have underlined. Provide explanation to your notes.

Transfer (Assessment): How does The Heart of Darkness make sense to you in the light of today’s world? In other words, what connections can you make between what happened in the story of Heart of Darkness and the world we live in today?

Homework#13 Make a dialectical journal with at least 10 entries based on the “Afterwords” of the novella.

Summative Assessment #1

2006 Poem: “Evening Hawk” (Robert Penn Warren)
Prompt:  Read the following poem carefully.  Then write a well-organized essay in which you analyze how the poet uses language to describe the scene and to convey mood and meaning.

Evening Hawk by Robert Penn Warren

From plane of light to plane, wings dipping through
Geometries and orchids that the sunset builds,
Out of the peak’s black angularity of shadow, riding
The last tumultuous avalanche of
Light above pines and the guttural gorge,
The hawk comes.
His wing
Scythes down another day, his motion
Is that of the honed steel-edge, we hear
The crashless fall of stalks of Time.

The head of each stalk is heavy with the gold of our error.

Look!  Look!  he is climbing the last light
Who knows neither Time nor error, and under
Whose eye, unforgiving, the world, unforgiven, swings
Into shadow.

Long now,
The last thrush is still, the last bat
Now cruises in his sharp hieroglyphics.  His wisdom
Is ancient, too, and immense.  The star
Is steady, like Plato, over the mountain.

If there were no wind we might, we think, hear
The earth grind on its axis, or history
Drip in darkness like a leaking pipe in the cellar.

Notes:

“With its rhythmical loveliness – an evening lull quickened by hawk-motions – and its unrepentent sensory vividness, which triumphs at the end, and most of all the hawk’s animal vigor, the poem stays alive, however fought over from inside. The emotion remains true and intact, because the poet is not contemptuous of vitality per se, but only of vitality that fails. Here, vitality in its full power is consonant with Platonic freedom from death and error.”
-From Calvin Bedient, “His Varying Stance,” Chapter 4 in In The Heart’s Last Kingdom: Robert Penn Warren’s Major Poetry (Cambridge: harvard U P, 1984), 166-167.

Summative Assessment #2

The following passage comes from the middle section of Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. Read the passage carefully. Write an essay in which you analyze the meaning of the main character, Kurtz’s last words, “Horror, Horror!” Pay particular attention to the diction, symbolism and figurative language Conrad uses to convey such “horror”.

“A slight clinking behind me made me turn my head. Six black men advanced in a file, toiling up the path. They walked erect and slow, balancing small baskets full of earth on their heads, and the clink kept time with their footsteps. Black rags were wound round their loins, and the short ends behind waggled to and fro like tails. I could see every rib, the joints of their limbs were like knots in a rope; each had an iron collar on his neck, and all were connected together with a chain whose bights swung between them, rhythmically clinking. Another report from the cliff made me think suddenly of that ship of war I had seen firing into a continent. It was the same kind of ominous voice; but these men could by no stretch of imagination be called enemies. They were called criminals, and the outraged law, like the bursting shells, had come to them, an insoluble mystery from the sea. All their meagre breasts panted together, the violently dilated nostrils quivered, the eyes stared stonily uphill. They passed me within six inches, without a glance, with that complete, deathlike indifference of unhappy savages. Behind this raw matter one of the reclaimed, the product of the new forces at work, strolled despondently, carrying a rifle by its middle. He had a uniform jacket with one button off, and seeing a white man on the path, hoisted his weapon to his shoulder with alacrity. This was simple prudence, white men being so much alike at a distance that he could not tell who I might be. He was speedily reassured, and with a large, white, rascally grin, and a glance at his charge, seemed to take me into partnership in his exalted trust. After all, I also was a part of the great cause of these high and just proceedings.
“Instead of going up, I turned and descended to the left. My idea was to let that chain-gang get out of sight before I climbed the hill. You know I am not particularly tender; I’ve had to strike and to fend off. I’ve had to resist and to attack sometimes — that’s only one way of resisting — without counting the exact cost, according to the demands of such sort of life as I had blundered into. I’ve seen the devil of violence, and the devil of greed, and the devil of hot desire; but, by all the stars! these were strong, lusty, red-eyed devils, that swayed and drove men — men, I tell you. But as I stood on this hillside, I foresaw that in the blinding sunshine of that land I would become acquainted with a flabby, pretending, weak-eyed devil of a rapacious and pitiless folly. How insidious he could be, too, I was only to find out several months later and a thousand miles farther. For a moment I stood appalled, as though by a warning. Finally I descended the hill, obliquely, towards the trees I had seen.
“I avoided a vast artificial hole somebody had been digging on the slope, the purpose of which I found it impossible to divine. It wasn’t a quarry or a sandpit, anyhow. It was just a hole. It might have been connected with the philanthropic desire of giving the criminals something to do. I don’t know. Then I nearly fell into a very narrow ravine, almost no more than a scar in the hillside. I discovered that a lot of imported drainage-pipes for the settlement had been tumbled in there. There wasn’t one that was not broken. It was a wanton smash-up. At last I got under the trees. My purpose was to stroll into the shade for a moment; but no sooner within than it seemed to me I had stepped into the gloomy circle of some Inferno. The rapids were near, and an uninterrupted, uniform, headlong, rushing noise filled the mournful stillness of the grove, where not a breath stirred, not a leaf moved, with a mysterious sound — as though the tearing pace of the launched earth had suddenly become audible.
“Black shapes crouched, lay, sat between the trees leaning against the trunks, clinging to the earth, half coming out, half effaced within the dim light, in all the attitudes of pain, abandonment, and despair. Another mine on the cliff went off, followed by a slight shudder of the soil under my feet. The work was going on. The work! And this was the place where some of the helpers had withdrawn to die….
“I didn’t want any more loitering in the shade, and I made haste towards the station. When near the buildings I met a white man, in such an unexpected elegance of get-up that in the first moment I took him for a sort of vision. I saw a high starched collar, white cuffs, a light alpaca jacket, snowy trousers, a clean necktie, and varnished boots. No hat. Hair parted, brushed, oiled, under a green-lined parasol held in a big white hand. He was amazing, and had a penholder behind his ear.

Assessment #3 Pick one of the open-ended questions below to write an essay as your critical response to Heart of Darkness by J. Conrad.

1984. Select a line or so of poetry, or a moment or scene in a novel, epic poem, or play that you find especially memorable. Write an essay in which you identify the line or the passage, explain its relationship to the work in which it is found, and analyze the reasons for its effectiveness.

1987. Some novels and plays seem to advocate changes in social or political attitudes or in traditions. Choose such a novel or play and note briefly the particular attitudes or traditions that the author apparently wishes to modify. Then analyze the techniques the author uses to influence the reader’s or audience’s views. Avoid plot summary.

2002. Morally ambiguous characters — characters whose behavior discourages readers from identifying them as purely evil or purely good — are at the heart of many works of literature. Choose a novel or play in which a morally ambiguous character plays a pivotal role. Then write an essay in which you explain how the character can be viewed as morally ambiguous and why his or her moral ambiguity is significant to the work as a whole. Avoid mere plot summary.

2004. Critic Roland Barthes has said, “Literature is the question minus the answer.” Choose a novel, or play, and, considering Barthes’ observation, write an essay in which you analyze a central question the work raises and the extent to which it offers answers. Explain how the author’s treatment of this question affects your understanding of the work as a whole. Avoid mere plot summary.

2006. Many writers use a country setting to establish values within a work of literature. For example, the country may be a place of virtue and peace or one of primitivism and ignorance. Choose a novel or play in which such a setting plays a significant role. Then write an essay in which you analyze how the country setting functions in the work as a whole.

2006, Form B. In many works of literature, a physical journey – the literal movement from one place to another – plays a central role. Choose a novel, play, or epic poem in which a physical journey is an important element and discuss how the journey adds to the meaning of the work as a whole. Avoid mere plot summary.

 

*Appendix

The Core Vocabulary in Heart of Darkness

  1. Offing-a near or foreseeable future
  2. Diaphanous- characterized by delicacy of firm or texture
  3. Inscrutable-not readily investigated, interpreted or understood
  4. Sedentary- completely inactive
  5. Propensity-an often intense preference or natural inclination
  6. Spectral-ghostly
  7. Struts-a spar that crosses a fore and aft of a sail diagonally
  8. Luminous-glowing, a lighted
  9. Estuary-Water passage where the tide meets the river current

10. Ascetic-practicing strict self-denial as a measure of personal or spiritual discipline

11. Venerable-Sacred, religious or respected

12. August-marked by majestic dignity

13. Knight Errant-a knight traveling in search of adventures in which to exhibit military skill and prowess.

14. Immutability-changeable

15. Concertina-a small musical, instrument, like an accordion

16. Somnambulist-a sleepwalker

17. Ominous-Unfavorable or threatening

18. Sententiously-full of meaning, saying much in few words, giving advice

19. Enigma-something hard to understand or mysterious – adj, enigmatic-

20. Insipid-Without any taste or spirit of interest

21. Lugubrious-too sad – overly mournful

22. Drollery-Unwhimsical humor

23. Morose-having a gloomy disposition

24. Alacrity-Punctual, prompt or on-time

25. Rapacious-excessively covetous

26. Moribund-state of dying

27. Pestilence-contagious or infectious

28. Demoralization-to corrupt, or the corruption of something

29. Trenchant-vigorously effective, morals articulate

30. Stealthy-sneaky or undercover

31. Deplorable-deserving contempt

32. Indefatigable-unable to become tired

33. Scathing-bitterly severe

34. Taunt-tease or make fun of

35. Epoch-a time period or fixed point

36. Serviette-a table napkin

37. Ostentation-to display

38. Beguiled-to lead by deception

39. Supercilious-haughty or proud

40. Prevaricator-liar, deviator of truth

41. Impudence-marked by cocky boldness

42. Vexed-debated or discussed at length

43. Pestiferous-dangerous to society

44. Indignation: to be unjust, unworth and mean

45. Sagacious: discerning

46. edifying-to instruct and improve spiritually

47. inscrutable

48. culminating

49. sepulcher

50. uncanny

51. confounded

52. insoluble

53. effaced

54. muddle

55. trenchant

56. rapacity

57. indefatigable

58. commingling

59. mica

60. pestilential

61. shoals

62. modulated

63. serried

64. peroration

65. promptitude

66. harlequin

67. despondency

68. brusque

69. jocose

70. voracious

Text-based Questions

1. What is the point of providing a “frame narrator”? How does the presence of this kind of narrator affect your view of Marlow’s authority as a narrator?

2. What does the frame narrator say distinguishes Marlow from other sailors? How is this distinction significant with respect to the adventure that Marlow recounts?

3. What does Marlow say about the Roman imperial project? How does the Roman project compare to the Belgian (and British) motivations for seeking an empire?

4. Keep track of references to maps — see, for example, What significance lies in Marlow’s references to maps? How, for example, do they represent the novella’s frequent opposition between light and “darkness”?

5. Marlow describes a map image of the Congo River in Africa as being like a snake. What snake-like qualities does this reference transfer to the River, and how does the transference set us up for the rest of the novel’s events?

6 Marlow meets a pair of women weaving — to what Classical myths does this scene appeal, and why would such an appeal be significant in the context of the story as a whole?

7. Describe the exchange between Marlow and his idealistic Aunt .How well does Marlow’s self-description as a realist hold up over the course of the story? Explain.

8. Soon Marlow sets out for Africa on a French steamship, and gets his first look at native Africans along the shore. What qualities does he observe in them, and what seems to be his attitude about those qualities?

9. Marlow has reached the Company’s Outer Station, and offers us some observations about it. What does he say about the reigning “Devil” in this Outer Station? How does this “Devil” differ from others with whom he has made acquaintance?

10. What fundamental contrast or contradiction among the Outer Station inhabitants begins to appear right away, as soon as Marlow comes across dying workers and the smartly dressed Company Accountant?

11. What is the first description we hear of Kurtz? For what quality or activity is he praised? How does the praise bring up the novella’s frequent oppositions between light or whiteness and darkness?

12. Marlow reaches the Central Station. How does he describe nature’s effects on the Station and its inhabitants? What power does the wilderness have over the Station, and what appears to motivate its occupants?

13. What view of Kurtz does the Brickmaker (a favorite of the Manager) take? Why does he appear to resent Kurtz?

14.Marlow says that he detests lies. Does this implied (and elsewhere stated) preference for truth hold constant in the novella? Does Marlow seem to understand his own character, or is he at times confused about his interests and beliefs? Explain.

15.How do the Manager and his nephew reveal their resentment of Kurtz in spite of that agent’s obvious success as an ivory collector? What effect does their resentment have upon Marlow, who has overheard their conversation?

16. How does Marlow describe the Congo River and its environs? How does he describe his interaction with the River? What illusion does the River promote? What insight does it provide, at least so far as Marlow is concerned?

17. What does Marlow imply is the basis for his ability to respond to the African natives he observes? To what extent does he here invoke the distinction often made between nature and culture, primitive and civilized? Does he accept that distinction?

18. Marlow discovers a hut with some firewood and a book. Why does this book impress him?

19. Marlow says that he came to an important realization as he neared Kurtz’s Station. What is the realization, and to what extent does it influence or explain his behavior in the rest of the story?

20. What commentary does Marlow offer on the issue of “restraint”? What accounts for the restraint shown by the natives, and what accounts for the restraint shown by the Manager?

21. Marlow speaks of Kurtz as “a voice.” Soon thereafter, how does Marlow’s manner of relating his story change? What seems to be the reason for his fascination with Kurtz’ voice?

22. How does Marlow describe the partially completed report that Kurtz penned before lapsing into his fatal illness? What effect does that report have on Marlow?

23. Marlow meets a Russian devotee of Kurtz. What view of Kurtz does the Russian set forth? How does he differ from Kurtz?

24. Marlow sees the “symbolic” skulls lining Kurtz’s hut? What reflections do those skulls lead Marlow to make regarding the nature of Kurtz’ downfall in the wilderness?

25. The travelers meet Kurtz’ mistress. Does her presence affect their (or your) understanding of Kurtz? If so, how?

26. After making some less than condemnatory remarks about Kurtz, Marlow is pegged as a “fellow traveler” of Kurtz. How does Marlow react when he finally closes in upon and then encounters Kurtz?

27. What does Kurtz say in his final illness? What, if anything, does Marlow learn from Kurtz? How does he interpret Kurtz’s phrase “the horror, the horror”?

28. Kurtz finally passes away, and, at the text’s conclusion, Marlow decides to visit Kurtz’s “Intended,” or fiancee. Why does Marlow lie to her about Kurtz’s last words? Does his lie reflect any insight he has gained from his trip up the Congo and to “the Heart of Darkness”? Explain.

 

AP English                                                                             Name: ________________________________

Heart of Darkness Test

 

The multiple choice questions are based on the following passage from Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.

 

The sea-reach of the Thames stretched before us like the beginning of an interminable waterway. In the offing the sea and the sky were welded together without a joint, and in the luminous space the tanned sails of the barges drifting up with the tide seemed to stand still in red clusters of canvas sharply peaked, with gleams of varnished sprits. A haze rested on the low shores that ran out to sea in vanishing flatness. The air was dark above Gravesend, and farther back still seemed condensed into a mournful gloom, brooding motionless over the biggest, and the greatest, town on earth.

 

“I was thinking of very old times, when the Romans first came here, nineteen hundred years ago — the other day. . . . Light came out of this river since — you say Knights? Yes; but it is like a running blaze on a plain, like a flash of lightning in the clouds. We live in the flicker — may it last as long as the old earth keeps rolling! But darkness was here yesterday. Imagine the feelings of a commander of a fine — what d’ye call ’em? — trireme in the Mediterranean, ordered suddenly to the north; run overland across the Gauls in a hurry; put in charge of one of these craft the legionaries — a wonderful lot of handy men they must have been, too — used to build, apparently by the hundred, in a month or two, if we may believe what we read. Imagine him here — the very end of the world, a sea the colour of lead, a sky the colour of smoke, a kind of ship about as rigid as a concertina — and going up this river with stores, or orders, or what you like. Sand-banks, marshes, forests, savages, — precious little to eat fit for a civilized man, nothing but Thames water to drink. No Falernian wine here, no going ashore. Here and there a military camp lost in a wilderness, like a needle in a bundle of hay — cold, fog, tempests, disease, exile, and death — death skulking in the air, in the water, in the bush. They must have been dying like flies here. Oh, yes — he did it. Did it very well, too, no doubt, and without thinking much about it either, except afterwards to brag of what he had gone through in his time, perhaps. They were men enough to face the darkness. And perhaps he was cheered by keeping his eye on a chance of promotion to the fleet at Ravenna by and by, if he had good friends in Rome and survived the awful climate. Or think of a decent young citizen in a toga — perhaps too much dice, you know — coming out here in the train of some prefect, or tax-gatherer, or trader even, to mend his fortunes. Land in a swamp, march through the woods, and in some inland post feel the savagery, the utter savagery, had closed round him — all that mysterious life of the wilderness that stirs in the forest, in the jungles, in the hearts of wild men. There’s no initiation either into such mysteries. He has to live in the midst of the incomprehensible, which is also detestable. And it has a fascination, too, that goes to work upon him. The fascination of the abomination — you know, imagine the growing regrets, the longing to escape, the powerless disgust, the surrender, the hate.”

He paused.

“Mind,” he began again, lifting one arm from the elbow, the palm of the hand outwards, so that, with his legs folded before him, he had the pose of a Buddha preaching in European clothes and without a lotus-flower — “Mind, none of us would feel exactly like this. What saves us is efficiency — the devotion to efficiency. But these chaps were not much account, really. They were no colonists; their administration was merely a squeeze, and nothing more, I suspect. They were conquerors, and for that you want only brute force — nothing to boast of, when you have it, since your strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of others. They grabbed what they could get for the sake of what was to be got. It was just robbery with violence, aggravated murder on a great scale, and men going at it blind — as is very proper for those who tackle a darkness. The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much. What redeems it is the idea only. An idea at the back of it; not a sentimental pretence but an idea; and an unselfish belief in the idea — something you can set up, and bow down before, and offer a sacrifice to. . . .”

 

 

_____  1.  In the passage, darkness implies all of the following except

            a. the unknown

            b. savagery

            c. ignorance

            d. death

            e. exploration

 

_____ 2. The setting of the passage is

            a. Africa

            b. Ancient Rome

            c. London

            d. the Mediterranean

            e. Italy

 

_____ 3. The tone of the passage is

            a. condescending

            b. indignant

            c. scornful

            d. pensive

            e. laudatory

 

 

 

 

 

 

_____4. Later events may be foreshadowed by all of the following phrases except

            a. “…imagine the feelings of a commander…”

            b. “…live in the midst of the incomprehensible…”

            c. “…in some inland post feel the savagery…”

            d. “They must have been dying like flies here.”

            e. “The very end of the world…”

 

_____5. The narrator draws a parallel between

            a. light and dark

            b. past and present

            c. life and death

            d. fascination and abomination

            e. decency and savagery

 

_____6. In this passage, “We live in the flicker…” (lines 9-10) may be interpreted to mean

            I.  In the history of the world, humanity’s span on earth is brief.

            II. Future civilizations will learn from only a portion of the past.

            III. Periods of enlightenment and vision appear only briefly.

            a. I

            b. II

            c. III

            d. II and III

            e. I and III

 

 

 

 

_____ 7. One may conclude from the passage that the speaker

            a. admires adventurers

            b. longs to be a crusader

            c. is a former military officer

            d. recognizes and accepts the presences of evil in human experience

            e. is prejudiced

 

_____8. In the context of the passage, which of the following phrases contains a paradox?

            a. “The fascination of the abomination”

            b. “In the hearts of wild men”

            c. “There’s no initiation…into such mysteries…”

            d. “a flash of lightning in the clouds…”

            e. “Death skulking in the air…”

 

_____9. The lines, “…Imagine him here…concertina…” (13 to 15) contain examples of

            a. hyperbole and personification

            b. irony and metaphor

            c. alliteration and personification

            d. parallel structure and simile

            e. allusion and simile

 

_____ 10. According to the speaker, the one trait which saves Europeans from savagery is

            a. sentiment

            b. a sense of mystery

            c. brute force

            d. religious zeal

            e. efficiency

 

_____ 11. According to the speaker, the only justification for conquest is

            a. the “weakness of others”

            b. it’s being “proper for those who tackle the darkness…”

            c. their grabbing “what they could get for the sake of what was to be got”

            d. “…an unselfish belief in the idea”

            e. “The fascination of the abomination”

 

_____ 12. In the statement by the speaker, “Mind none of us would feel exactly like this: (line 33), “this” refers to

            a. “…a Buddha preaching in European clothes…” (line 34)

            b. “…imagine the growing regrets…the hate” (lines 31-32)

            c. “What redeems it is the idea only.” (lines 42-44)

            d. “…think of a decent young citizen in a toga…” (lines 22- 23)

            e. “I was thinking of very old times…”  (line 7)

 

_____ 13.  The speaker presents all of the following reasons for exploration and conquest except

            a. military expeditions

            b. “…a chance of promotion”

            c. “…to mend his fortune…”

            d. religious commitment

            e. punishment for a crime

 

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