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The Intended  

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royzieglerh70
(@royzieglerh70)
Bookworm AP Lit 2020
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March 3, 2020 5:32 pm  

One of our discussion questions in class this week has been about the role of the Intended in Heart of Darkness. In my eyes, the significance of the Intended in this novel is to provide Conrad a chance to have Marlow lie in order to assert the point that darkness exists everywhere, that it is inside the heart of every person. The threat of darkness does not just exist in Africa and other uncivilized places, but it comes from the heart within each individual, and the Intended serves as the European example of this darkness. Conrad wants the reader to realize that there is no getting away from the darkness that dwells inside everyone; it is necessary always to practice self-restraint or else the darkness will take over. Conrad develops a very sexist attitude towards women early in the book. This apparently demeaning attitude towards women sets up Marlow’s meeting with and first impression of Kurtz’s Intended. Marlow describes the Intended as having “fair hair, [a] pale visage, [a] pure brow” and “a soul as translucently pure as a cliff of crystal”, all features that are light and cause the Intended to appear pure and uncorrupted by the darkness that her fiance has been subjected to. What do other people think about the role of the Intended to show that darkness is not confined to race, gender, or region of the world, and instead lives within?


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graceirla
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March 3, 2020 7:28 pm  

When I reached the part about the intended, it struck me as strange that she was finishing Marlow's sentences. It reminded me of Turn of the Screw when Mrs. Grose and the governess would complete each other's sentences before they had time to finish the original thought. When we were talking about it then, Chisnell brought up the idea that they could be doing this intentionally to hide something from the other or let the other think what they want. Relating this to Heart of Darkness, I believe it's possible that Kurtz' Intended wants to preserve her perfect idea of him after his death. She's hasty to finish Marlow's sentence with something positive and presents herself as completely devoted to him. Would the Intended be susceptible to darkness if she had found out what Kurtz truly was? Would the knowledge of that be enough to "corrupt" her? When Marlow was refusing to tell her his last words, did he see that and decide to preserve this or was he trying to save himself from guilt?


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zrosario002
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March 5, 2020 12:47 pm  

I agree with you Grace. It seems like she is trying to preserve this idealized version of Marlow she has made in her head, because she knows deep down that he is not perfect because, as Hannah said, none of us are perfect human beings. There is darkness in all of us. This reminds me of Id, Ego , and Superego. This "darkness" that's been talked about so much is really just the i'd like tendencies of human beings. Doing what you want without restraint of the superego. Maybe the The Intended actions towards Marlow, always finishing his sentences with something positive and stuff like that, is supposed to act as a Superego to Marlow? Or maybe that's The Intended Superego speaking because she's working so hard to keep this perfect image of Marlow to remain completely, truly, and unabashedly devoted to him.


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kesar
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March 6, 2020 9:00 pm  

I agree with Grace that we have a situation very similar to turn of the screw here with the intended finishing Marlow's sentences. I very much doubt that what the intended says is how Marlow was planning on finishing those sentences. She does not want her memories of Kurtz tarnished by whatever Marlow might tell her about what Kurtz did while in Africa. Rather than being pure and innocent she is choosing to remain ignorant. Is this the real darkness of the situation, people's refusal to see the horror of what is happening in Africa?


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royemmis25
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March 20, 2020 10:53 am  

@zrosario002

The intended did finish marlos sentences a lot when talking about kurtz. I found this very annoying while reading the book. I did feel as if she was living in her own fantasy world, and was trying to protect it by forcing her hopes and views onto those who may disprove them. Like marlo had the potential to. Maybe this is the “horror” kurtz mentioned in his last words. It still strikes me how different the intended is from the mistress.


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