Conrad uses this moment to create an epic comparison between Marlow searching for Kutrz and a knight searching for an enchanted princess. Both put the protagonist in a heroic, positive light as he rescues his desired person (even though Marlow doesn’t exactly have the initial intention of saving Kurtz from the insanity and absurdness of the Congo wilderness).
In my eyes, a great representation of this fairy-tale scene is when Shrek and Donkey journey to rescue Princess Fiona in the first Shrek movie. This clip, though riddled with funny dialogue between Donkey and Shrek, has several elements that reproduce the epic atmosphere that I picture when a knight saves his damsel in distress, while still connecting to the dangers of the Congo presented in the novel, like a rickety bridge (similar to the winding and unreliable waters of the river?) crossing over a pit of bubbling lava (if we continue the Dante’s Inferno metaphor, the lava symbolizes Hell?).
Additionally, this quote serves as another moment of uncertainty in the novel. At this moment our image of Kurtz is still rather, well, foggy. Marlow refers to him as “this Kurtz” in order to relay the idea that he is still a rather ambiguous figure, whom no one actually knows for sure. This relates to the Shrek clip because Shrek and Donkey don’t know anything about their journey certainly either, and Donkey even asks where the Princess will be. Also, Shrek and Donkey are clueless with regards to the Dragon—neither know where it is, nor how powerful/ferocious it is. This somewhat relates to the ambiguity of the Congo itself, as Marlow and his crew don’t know where the natives are hiding in the dark forrest, nor do they know how/when/if they will attack.
Overall, this quote has aspects of both clarity and uncertainty. Both are utilized by Conrad as tools to set the scene, specifically by portraying the uncertainty the characters feel and by clearly mentioning the difficulties Marlow and his crew must face on their journey.
“If she offered to come aboard I really think I would have tried to shoot her” said the man of patches nervously. “ I had been risking my life every day for the last fortnight to keep her out of the house”
-Russian disciple of Kurtz
The powerful woman that we met while in the Heart of Darkness really intrigued me. Throughout Heart of Darkness, we have seen few female characters, and up until this point, none that are in the least bit powerful. But all of a sudden we are introduced to this fearless female character and the overall feeling towards her is fear. We haven’t quite figured out the whole story behind this woman, but we know that she has power, she is fearless to the “authority” of Kurtz and that the people stationed in the heart of darkness don’t receive her well. Another thing to keep in mind is that although this woman stands out as significant in Marlow’s story, she is nonetheless nameless. Why do you think the Russian insists upon keeping this woman out of the house? What is the significance of this one powerful woman thriving and fearless in the middle of the heart of darkness?