Today in class we talked about how Marlow stays sane through his adventures in Africa by focusing on steering the steamboat, or in other words, by having a task to accomplish. On page 803 in the Norton Anthology, Marlow asserts, “When you have to attend to things of that sort, to the mere incidents of the surface, the reality- the reality, I tell you- fades. The inner truth is hidden- luckily, luckily.” By focusing on piloting the ship, he does not allow his emotions to overcome him. In contrast, Dostoevesky's Underground Man lets his thoughts and memories conquer his life. His inaction (another form of action, according to existentialists) and lack of purpose lead to his bitter unhappiness. Both Dostoevesky's Underground Man and Marlow become disenchanted with society but differ in the ways they handle their disgruntlement.
Do you all see any other similarities or differences between Marlow and the Underground Man?