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How do each of the settings of Europe, the outer station, central station, and inner...

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andy85408 | Student, Grade 11

Posted March 30, 2013 at 11:55 PM via web

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How do each of the settings of Europe, the outer station, central station, and inner station bring about the theme of Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad?

Heart of Darkness is such a tough book to read! I am confused about the majority of it and have a few questions. But I think the theme of the novel is that civilized people can easily become uncivilized when put in chaotic settings. I've gathered that most of the settings are dark. But I'm having a tough time with how each of the settings mentioned earlier bring about the theme and with what about each setting does that. Any input would be greatly appreciated.

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William Delaney | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 31, 2013 at 5:52 PM (Answer #1)

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I agree with you that Heart of Darkness is a tough book to read. Joseph Conrad's prose is not easy to follow. I also think you are exactly right in asserting that it is about how civilized people can become uncivilized by being placed in a different environment.

It isn't Marlow who changes but Kurtz. I think you should focus your attention on the part in which Marlow encounters Kurtz at the outer station setting and in which he observes how this formerly civilized man has been turned into a savage by living in the heart of darkness--the most uncivilized place in the entire world.

The Belgian Congo had an unsavory reputation because of the colonizers' sadistic mistreatment of the natives. See the enotes reference to historical context of Heart of Darkness in the link below. The part about the historical context is only one page long, but I think you would find it helpful in understanding Conrad's story better.

Sources:

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