Significance of Three in Heart of Darkness
What to cover:
Examples of “three” in HOD
-three devils: Devil of Violence, Devil of Greed, Devil of Hot Desire -three women
-three breaks where Marlow is interrupted in his story.
-dying of fever three a day
Outer, Central, and Inner
First, notice that the book is divided into three chapters. It might be profitable to ask what happens in each of those chapters, and why Conrad chooses to make the breaks where he does. It is also worth noting that Marlow breaks off his story exactly three times--three times the outside narrator comes back to say something--once in chapter one, twice in chapter two, and not at all until the end in chapter three. I would like to suggest that it will be worth your while to see what Marlow is talking about in the page or so before each break, and how it relates to what the outside narrator says is happening on the Nelly, and to what Marlow says when he starts speaking again. Are there other things that come in threes in Heart of Darkness? How about the three stations of Marlow's journey? Or the three women who frame his journey--his aunt, Kurtz's African girlfriend, and the Intended? And what about the three possible central characters: Kurtz, Marlow, and the outside narrator? I'm sure if you inspect the book closely you can find other patterns that come in threes.
Symbolism of “Three”
The three divisions of time - past, present and future.
Why Conrad choose to use “three”
-Three narrators = The Trinity, three parts of a human (outer, inner, and the connector), past/present/future -Three Parts of the book
He clearly achieves what he outines in the preface to another book: “My task which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word to make you hear, to make you feel—it is, before all, to make you see.” It is difficult not to hear, feel, or see this story when reading it.
Two Knitting Women (whom Marlow sees at the signing)
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