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Heart of Darkness
By Joseph Conrad
Marlow - Young man who decides that it would be exiting to travel into Africa hunting ivory and does so by taking the place of a dead steamboat captain.
Kurts - Famous man among the ivory seekers who has lived and hunted on the continent for a while and has exploited the savages becoming much like a savage himself.
Russian fool - Man who is known by his clothes with many colorful patches making him look much like a harlequin. He works with Kurtz who proves to be poor company for him.
The Intended - Kurtzs bride to be who at the end of the book still thinks that Kurtz was the great man that she remembered him to be and Marlow doesnt have the heart to tell her otherwise.
Helmsman - Man who steers the steamboat but goes away from the wheel to fight the savages only to be killed by an arrow.
Accountant - Accountant who takes care of the money matters for Kurtz and has lived on the continent for three years trying to keep his civilized nature.
Central Station - This is the station where Marlow meets the accountant and observes the way the whites do nothing but exploit the blacks to do pointless labor.
Inner Station - This is the station where Kurtz works and where Marlow finds him being worshipped by the savages.
Thames River - Marlow tells his story to various people here.
Marlow sits at the Thames River in the evening with several other people and begins telling the story about how he entered into the dark continent out of nowhere. No one wants to listen but he continues anyway.
Marlow expressed a desire to go to Africa to his Aunt who got him a position as a captain of a steamboat of an ivory company. The previous captain Freslaven died in a scuffle with the natives and Marlow took his place. A few days later, Marlow travels to Africa and gets to the first station where he meets the accountant who keeps track of the funds in Kurtzs company. The man is interesting to Marlow since hes been on the continent for three years, yet he keeps himself clean and well dressed. Marlow finds the blacks being poorly treated and ordered to do meaningless work by the whites. Marlow continues down the river on his steamboat with a crew of several whites and about 20 to 30 blacks. As he travels down the river, he comes across this shack where he picks up wood, and a note cautioning him to travel carefully. He continues down the river and becomes surrounded by savages in the fog. Marlow is frightened but the savages dont do anything... until the fog rises. The savages attack and Marlows men fire back. The arrows of the savages have little effect on Marlows men or his boat. And the guns of Marlows men have little effect on the savages since they fire too high. Only Marlows helmsman dies. Marlow blows the whistle and mysteriously, all the savages retreat in fear. Marlow shortly reaches the inner station where he is greeted by the Russian Fool who seems to survive in the heart of the continent by not knowing whats going on around him. Kurtz is very ill and needs to be taken back to England, but he does not want to go. In fact, he is the one who ordered the attack on the steamboat so that they couldnt take him back to England. Kurtz is worshipped by the natives and completely exploits them. Kurtz tries to escape to the natives but Marlow catches him and takes him back to the steamboat head back for England. While still on the river, Kurtz dies saying, The horror, the horror. Marlow returns to England. He visits Kurtzs intended who is still in mourning a year after Kurtzs death. She still remembers Kurtz as the great man he was before he left, and Marlow doesnt tell her what he had become before he dies. Marlow gives Kurtz her old letters and leaves.
Shoes - These symbolize civilization and protection.
Ivory ... more
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Origin of Heiroglyphics
Ancient Egypt conjures up thoughts of a great civilization, one very advanced for its time. The Ancient Egyptians invented all different forms of literature, including poetry and short stories, and they were extremely advanced as far as art, medicine, science, and religion went. One of the more mysterious aspects to Ancient Egyptian civilization was their use of hieroglyphics. Very few people to this day can understand the complex language. The origin of these hieroglyphics seems to also to be misunderstood by many people. Some think that since the Egyptians were such a close, rigid society that they invented the form of writing called hieroglyphics, but that is simply not true. The origin of using pictures to represent things can be traced all the way back to caveman times, but the main influence for the Egyptians came from the land of Sumer.
In fact, the beginning of Egyptian civilization was very similar to that of the Sumerians. By 500 b.c., farming settlements were established all along the Nile River (Warburton, 69). Civilization in Egypt brought problems similar to those that arose in Sumer, but it was the growing government bureaucracy, not business, that created the need for writing, and the eventual development of hieroglyphics.
Because the Nile flooded every year, the Egyptian farmers had begun to build dikes to keep the floodwaters out of towns, basins to capture and hold the water after the floods receded, and irrigation canals to distribute the water throughout the fields (Warburton, 70). Those projects required a very organized effort among every one of the farmers, and a strong central government and bureaucracy developed to manage and control this effort. Eventually, this bureaucracy, including the king, the upper-class, and the ever powerful priests in charge, became a huge, rigid network that managed everyones life. By 3100 b.c., when the Sumerians had invented their picture writing, it had become impossible to run that network without an accurate record-keeping system (Warburton, 74).
For a long time before then, the Egyptians had been trading gold and linen with many other countries from throughout the middle east. In exchange, they got timber, gems, copper, and perfume (World Book Encyclopedia, 224). While trading in the land of Sumer, the Ancient Egyptian traders must have noticed how helpful a written language was and how it could help their governments bureaucracy function much more smoothly. Then, they brought back the idea back to Egypt, where it was quickly and openly accepted.
The Egyptians, however, did not acknowledge the borrowing from Sumerian culture. Instead, they believed that writing had been invented by their god of learning, Thoth, so they called it words of the gods (Warburton, 70). And since written words came from the gods, they had magical powers. By carving a persons name on a tomb or monument, the Egyptians believed that they were helping to keep that person alive if they had passed on. Similarly, by erasing a persons name from the inscriptions would make the person disappear. Words were so powerful that putting a written list of objects in a tomb was the same as putting the objects in themselves. Since the Egyptians believed that a persons life was bound up in his name, the Egyptian Kings often had five names, the most important being the throne and birth names (Harris, 18).
Egyptians developed this gift from the gods into their own unique writing system, using the pictograms they borrowed from the Sumerians but drawing them in a very different style. When the Egyptians first started writing, they used simple pictures to represent objects, just as the Sumerians had. In combination, these pictures could also narrate an event.
Egyptians, like Sumerians, must have quickly realized the limitations of writing with only pictograms. Their population and business was growing rapidly, requiring an even more accurate record-keeping system. Also, the power of the kings was growing and so was their desire to glorify themselves, especially on the massive tombs they had built. They could not use pictograms to write The King triumphed over his enemies in a mighty victory (Helfman, 42). The priests, who at the time, were the only ones who could read and write, responded by developing ideograms and then ... more
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