Notes on Heart of Darkness Themes

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Heart of Darkness Topic Tracking: Dream/Nightmare

Part 1

Dream/Nightmare 1: The knitting women appeared to Marlow as though in a nightmare--they made no logical sense sitting in front of the Company's door.

Dream/Nightmare 2: Marlow compares the trip along the coast to a "delusion" and says that he had no contact with reality.

Dream/Nightmare 3: Marlow says that trying to get across the voyage is like trying to explain a dream--the whole episode made him feel "captured by the incredible." The whole story, he says, has that "dream-sensation."

Part 2

Dream/Nightmare 4: Marlow heard the conversation of the Manager and his uncle while half-asleep, so he wasn't sure of what was really happening.

Dream/Nightmare 5: Marlow compares the trip upriver to an "unrestful and noisy dream" that he can only remember in images and with confused wonder.

Dream/Nightmare 6: From his fever, Marlow slipped into a delusion wherein he hoped to look more appetizing than his shipmates--the sort of logic that works in dreams but cannot really be explained.

Part 3

Dream/Nightmare 7: Marlow wondered whether the Russian really existed, whether he had seen him at all.

Dream/Nightmare 8: Marlow was awakened by drums, and he was unaware of what was really happening--he could not believe what was going on, with fires, drums, the dark jungle, and Kurtz gone. Not being able to make sense of his surroundings, he simply went out to look for Kurtz.

Dream/Nightmare 9: Marlow describes his loyalty to Kurtz as "the nightmare of my choosing."

Dream/Nightmare 10: When Marlow found Kurtz he was unable to grasp what was going on--nothing seemed to have any meaning and his words were like words spoken in dreams.

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