Lies in Heart of Darkness
After declaring his passionate hate of lying it is odd to see the complete reversal of character in Marlow by the end of the book.Â Then perhaps it is not a change but merely an unexpected extension of his character that gives a different dimension to his personality.Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â
Â His statement "You know I hate, detest, and can't bear a lie...it appalls me.Â It makes me miserable and sick, like biting something rotten would do" (Longman 2210) gives what one may rightly consider a very straightforward clean cut description of the man's moral view and character traits.Â Yet by the end of the book one may feel he has not only betrayed their trust but himself and all the values he seemed to embody during the course of the story.Â
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Marlow's interview with Kurtz's Intended was less than the honesty one might have expected given his vehement stand on the issue of lying.Â When he went to speak to her I fully expected him to be completely honest and tell her the truth.Â My logic was that if she knew what Kurtz was like in reality her suffering would be eased and she would be able to gain an honest semi-objective view of the man she loved.Â That shows my modern thinking!Â It soon became clear that she was not going to accept any version of the truth and I found myself hoping that Marlow would lie to her to spare he the torture of knowing the truth.Â Her constant interrupting of Marlow's dialogue in order to fill in wonderful, glowing details about the man was a complete revelation as to what she could hear and survive.Â Marlow says, "It was impossible not to" "Love him" she finished eagerly..."How true! How true!" (Longman 2244) .Â Once Marlow has decided to sugar coat the truth he begins to utter non-committal phrases in regards to Kurtz which the Intended finishes; "His words will remain," I said.Â "And his example," she whispered to herself.Â "Men look up to him, -- his goodness shone in every act.Â His example"Â (Longman 2245).Â I think Marlow begins to see that he cannot be honest with her when they begin to speak of Kurtz's death.Â He says, "My anger subsided before a feeling of infinite pity" (Longman 2245).Â She was a woman, she was weak, she was alone, and every male tendency within Marlow rose up and prevented him from crushing what was left of her fragile spirit.
Act II Scene I has been written as a humorous scene. It is meant to be funny and light-hearted. Although a modern day audience may not laugh out loud, the humour, itself, is very obvious.
Alonzo thinks that his son, Ferdinand, is dead and one of his servants/Lords, Gonzalo, is trying to comfort him, but not succeeding. Sebastian and Antonio, basically mock Gonzalo and everything he says.
Gon: When every grief is entertainâ€™d thatâ€™s offerâ€™d
Comes to the entertainer â€“
Seb: A dollar
Gon: Dolour comes to him indeedâ€¦
Gonzalo is trying to tell the king not to grieve too much or something will come to the entertainer of grief, but before he can say what, Sebastian interrupts with â€œA dollarâ€. This is relevant because Sebastian pretended to take the term â€˜entertainerâ€™ literally. However, Gonzalo interprets what Sebastian said as dolour, which means sorrow. To make this even more humorous, Shakespeare has made Sebastian tell Gonzalo, outright, that he has taken what he said in the wrong way.
The second attempt at humour in this scene is Antonio and Sebastian talking to each other about Gonzalo not shutting up. After a short silence, they bet on who will be the next person to speak.
Ant: Which, of he or Adrian, for a good wager, first
Begins to crow?
Seb: The old cock
Ant: The cockerel
* * * * (Seb & Ant settle on the bet)
Adr: Though this island seem to be desert, -
Ant: Ha, ha, ha!
Seb: So: youâ€™re paid.
I personally found this humorous because there is no ASIDE used, which means they are not even trying to be discreet about their mockery.
The third attempt at humour is when Gonzalo is trying to be optimistic by talking about how fresh his clothes are. Of course, Sebastian and Antonio see this as another opportunity to mock Gonzalo. We, as the audience, know that Ariel made all of their clothes fresh after the ship was caught in the tempest. We therefore know that Gonzalo is actually telling the truth.
Gon: That our garments being, as they were, drenched
In the sea, hold, notwithstanding their freshness
And glosses being rather new-dyed than stained
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