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Heart of Darkness, Hollow Men, and Apocalypse Now

Similarities between Heart of Darkness, Hollow Men, and Apocalypse Now

In today’s literary world there are many different texts that have interlocking literary meaning through their references to one another and to other works. I am going to compare and draw similarities between T.S. Eliot’s The Hollow Men, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, and Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. These three sources have many different references to one another in different ways.

In T.S. Eliot’s The Hollow Men, he begins the poem with the title and underneath the title he uses the famous line “Mistah Kurtz- he dead” from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. This famous line is said by one of the servants about Mr. Kurtz who dies and all of the natives were shocked by his death. Eliot uses this line at the beginning of the poem because he is drawing a comparison between the hollow men and Kurtz. He does this because Kurtz’s idea of the civilization that he wanted to create didnÕt turn out the way he wanted it to in the end. Kurtz’s ideas lead to his downfall in the movie Apocalypse Now. He is also considered as being hollow himself because of his ideas and inability to face reality. This is similar to the hollow men because they don’t know what they will turn out to be. They have an idea of what they want to be but they know that will never happen. The hollow men really have no choice what they will be; they just let it happen. These hollow men are waiting to go to “death’s dream kingdom”, but they donÕt know if they will ever get there. Eliot talks about these hollow men and these men can be compared to the people who are following Kurtz. They are all hollow people because they are following this radical figure and do not have i…

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…Hollow Men. They show many similarities and there is reasoning behind the scene in the movie Apocalypse Now; where Kurtz is reading Eliot’s poem. It all is tied together and has specific meaning. It shows that different literary sources can be used to help out other literary texts. Conrad’s Heart of Darkness lays down the foundation of the character of Mr. Kurtz and then Eliot and Coppola portray this character through their pieces of art. Their literary meanings tie all of these works together to make them all unique in their own way.

Works Cited

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. Norton. New York. 1963.

Eliot, T.S. The Hollow Men. 1925.

Jain, Manju. A Critical Reading of the Selected Poems of T.S. Eliot. Oxford University Press. New York. 1991

Southam, B.C. A StudentÕs Guide to the Selected Poems of T.S. Eliot. Faber and Faber. Boston. 1968.

The Metaphors of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness

The Metaphors of Heart of Darkness

Within the text of Heart of Darkness, the reader is presented with many metaphors. Those that recur, and are most arresting and notable, are light and dark, nature and Kurtz and Marlow. The repeated use of light and dark imagery represents civilization and primitiveness, and of course the eternal meaning of good and evil. However, the more in depth the reader goes the more complex it becomes. Complex also are the meanings behind the metaphors of nature included within the text. It represents a challenge for the colonists, often also signifying decay and degeneration. Finally Kurtz and Marlow represent imperialism and the colonists. All these metaphors come together and contribute not only to the effect for the reader, but also to the overall meaning.

From the very moment Marlow speaks the reader is presented with light and dark imagery. It should be noted, however, that darkness seems to dominate. The light and dark, being binary oppositions, come to represent other binary oppositions, such as civilized and uncivilized, and of course good and evil. The primitive ‘savages’ are described as dark, both literally in regards to skin tone, but also in attitude and inwardly. Marlow calls the natives at the first station “black shadows of disease and starvation” (Conrad 20). A little further into the text, Marlow is horrified by what he is seeing, by the darkness he and the reader are being presented with. These are both excellent examples of the negativity towards the natives throughout the book. So, the darkness of the natives is a metaphor for their supposed incivility, evilness and primitiveness. However, if the reader looks a little deeper, they can see that this darkness also …

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…ss: Search for the Unconscious. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1987.

Conrad, Joseph Heart of Darkness. 3rd ed. New York: Norton, 1997

Csicseri, Coreen. “Themes and Structure of Heart of Darkness.” Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad 6 December 1998.

Available: (2 May 2001).

Dunson, David. “The symbol of the Wilderness in Heart of Darkness.” 3 November 1999.

Available (2 may 2001).

Harkness, Bruce. Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and the Critics. Belmont, Cal.: Wadsworth, 1965.

Joseph Conrad: Heart of Darkness, A Case Study in Contemporary Criticism , ed. Ross C. Murfin. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1989.

Rosmarin, Adena. “Darkening the Reader: Criticism and Heart of Darkness.” ed. Ross C. Murfin. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1989.

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