Article on Heart of Darkness

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Introduction to Literature I

Pavel Drábek

Autumn 2012


Terence Bowers, “Conrad’s Aeneid: Heart of Darkness and the Classical Epic”

This essay reflects the central ideas of Terence Bowers' article on Conrad's Heart of Darkness and observations.
In the article, Bowers compares the Heart of Darkness to Virgil’s Aeneid and Homer's Odyssey.
First that comes to mind is how the author points out the theme of underworld and how is it described in each work. Among others he mention that “by venturing into the underworld, the hero learns secret, even sacred knowledge that prepares him for his mission in life.“(Bowers 118) which we can observe in all three of the works (Heart of Darkness, Aeneid, Odyssey).

Another thing the author focuses on is the similarity between Aeneas and Kurtz, whom he puts into a role of a failed Aeneas and he gives the reader the example of unmerciful human sacrifices for a meagre reason or no reason at all, made (or ordered) by the character, which appears in both Aeneid and Heart of Darkness.

Bowers also sees Marlow as a predicament of the modern hero, when compared to Odysseus and Aeneas. When returned home, Odysseus finds suitors in his house, eating his food and seducing his wife “similarly, when Marlow returns to Brussels, he finds it disturbed by intruders; however, there intruders trespassed not on his property, but on his thoughts.” (Bowers 134).

In the end, we see that Joseph Conrad not only inspired himself reading Aeneid and Odyssey, but he took the nature of the characters to the next level.

Works Cited:
Terence Bowers, “Conrad’s Aeneid: Heart of Darkness and the Classical Epic” (2006)
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