Are Freud's ideas still respected in modern psychology?
Although Freud was a highly influential psychologist and aided in the development of the field as a respected science, many of his theories have been discredited.
What is Joseph Conrad's message about humanity in his book Heart of Darkness?
Marlow's decent into the jungles of Africa is symbolic of humanity's natural inclination for evil. For example, the captain Kurtz was an affluent businessman in England, but deteriorated into a sickly tribal chief with murderous and barbaric tendencies. This idea of the degradation of "high" society into "low" society through exposure to the third-world jungle is complicated through the imagery of imperialism. The "savage" tribes are wickedly mistreated by the supposedly civilized Englishmen. Therefore, Conrad is implying that all humanity, regardless of culture or level of sophistication, has deep-rooted tendencies of evil.
Why do teachers always search for the symbolism or hidden meanings in stories? Does everything have to have a meaning? Can't the authors ever just write something without it having a deeper side?
In literature, everything DOES mean everything! Each seemingly insignificant detail functions to build layers in the text that accumulate into a much bigger picture. Think of it like a treasure map: all of the clues that the author hides in the text lead us to a deeper, often entirely different message! These clues can be obvious, like rain meaning sadness or green meaning envy. Simple, surface symbolism techniques like this are often used to set a tone in the story or expand on the emotions of a character. However, intricate and elusive symbolism allows the authors to comment on broader concepts. Take Animal Farm by George Orwell. By allowing his plot to play through the actions of farm animals, Orwell created an interesting and entertaining novel that also had serious implications of Cold War politics.