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Heart of Darkness Study Guides
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PART ONE Setting: The Thames River. Belgium. Africa. The Outer Station. Central Station. Quote of Note: “And this also has been ones of the dark places of the Earth.” ~ Marlow
NOTE: The Thames River flows east from London to the sea, and the river’s fall is so gradual that the river runs “backwards” at high tide. If there is no wind, a sailing ship must wait for the tide to turn before it can be carried by the river down to the sea.
- As the story begins, the river and land in the direction of the sea are still light and hazy, but there is a “mournful gloom” brooding over what city?
- Who is on the boat?
- When the narrator thinks about the “greatness” that the river has seen, what is he thinking about? (What other kinds of greatness might there be?)
- When Marlow says, “This has been one of the dark places of the earth,” what does he mean by “dark”?
- What is the purpose of Marlow’s meditation on the Roman conquest of England?
- Point out the places where the author makes it clear that Marlow is telling the story. What effect does this knowledge have on the reader?
- Do you agree with Marlow’s assertion that the “conquest of the earth” in its nitty-gritty details has been morally a disappointment, but that the idea behind it has some merit? What is the idea behind it? Do you think Marlow is being straight-forward or ironic?
- True or false? What Marlow calls “the farthest point of navigation and the culminating point of my experience” involved sailing up the river (the Congo River) and meeting someone he here calls “the poor chap.”
- True or false: Marlow has to sign an agreement not to disclose any trade secrets.
- What is the significant about the account of Fresleven? Of the two knitting women and the map of Africa? Of the company doctor?
- According to Marlow, women are out of touch with ________________________.
- When Marlow says that the lively black fellows in the boats from shore gave him a “momentary contact with reality,” what does he mean by reality?
- Making a play on a conventional phrase (“having a devil of a time”), Marlow says he has had contact with four devils. Three are “the devil of violence, and the devil of greed, and the devil of hot desire.” What is the fourth devil?
- When Marlow comes across the malnourished young black men under the trees, what does he do? What does this tell us about Marlow?
- Why did Marlow admire the chief accountant? What is his significance to Marlow?
- By what means has civilization come to dignify African natives as enemies? As workers? As criminals?
- How far is it from the Outer Station where Marlow landed to the Central Station? (The trek is overland because the river is unnavigable along this stretch.)
- Explain Marlow’s attitude toward flies: Toward work:
- What does Marlow learn in his interview with the manager?
- Marlow suspected of the station manager that there might be “nothing within him.” Why might that be a problem?
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3 study guides for "Heart of Darkness"