Homework Help

In Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, what are examples of appearance versus reality?I...

user profile pic

sunset35 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted March 6, 2011 at 6:48 AM via web

dislike 2 like

In Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, what are examples of appearance versus reality?

I found an example in the civilized way the accountant dressed, but are there more? Can't the ivory represent appearance versus reality too?

2 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 6, 2011 at 12:29 PM (Answer #1)

dislike 3 like

In Joseph Conrad's novel, Heart of Darkness, there are several examples of appearance versus reality.

Ivory is an example of this. It is "harvested" and shipped all over the world to make elegant jewelry, women's fans, the keys of pianos: things of beauty and sophistication. The reality is that hunters kill elephants to take the ivory; the men that work within the stations up the Congo River are enslaved by the white man: they are starved, sick, beaten and hopeless souls.

Another example of appearance versus reality is the jungle and its inhabitants. As Marlow travels up the river, they see plants and animals along their way. However, behind the leaves are natives who do not want Kurtz to be taken away. They shoot arrows at the ship and a hidden danger of the jungle is revealed through the foliage that hides the ship's attackers.

When the area known today as the Democratic Republic of the Congo was initially "settled," it came under the control of the Belgian government, specifically, its king, Leopold II. Leopold II and his "supporters" were allegedly interested in bringing Christianity and civilization into the jungle, but the clearer truth was a desire to take the natural resources from that area.

Actions taken in the name of philanthropy [were] merely covers for greed.

The natives received nothing, but the "civilized" whites continued to take and take. This is another instance of appearance versus reality, as seen by the Company's presence, there to bring positive change to the people of that area; in reality they enslave the people and provide the world with its precious ivory.

A final example of appearance versus reality occurs at the end of the story when Marlow meets with Kurtz's fiancée. Kurtz dies on his way out of the Congo. Marlow refuses to believe Kurtz was insane, though he believed his soul was "insane." And although Kurtz's last words were, "The horror! The horror!" which would indicate how scarred his soul really was, Marlow lies when he meets the woman who has waited for Kurtz's return, telling her that Kurtz died with her name on his lips.

user profile pic

baileyjean19 | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 6, 2011 at 6:06 AM (Answer #2)

dislike -1 like

when Marlow is expecting to see wooden fence posts but instead there are human heads

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes