Homework Help

What is the meaning of the title of "Heart of Darkness"?

user profile pic

dancingurl216 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 29, 2007 at 11:31 AM via web

dislike 2 like

What is the meaning of the title of "Heart of Darkness"?

2 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

jamie-wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted October 29, 2007 at 11:42 AM (Answer #1)

dislike 0 like

The title can be understood both literally and symbolically.  Literally, the continent is dark and forboding, with an unexplored heart  (the Congo) in its depths.  Symbolically, the "heart of darkness," is the journey of Marlow and his companions.  Their travels  can be understood as a journey into the exploration of the darkness of the men's souls (sin) , reflected back to them by the "dark continent" which they explore. Their journey out of the Congo can be interpreted as a parallel to man's redemption from sin.   

user profile pic

erin-milburn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted October 30, 2007 at 12:25 AM (Answer #2)

dislike 0 like

Another interpetation of the title can refer to the character of Kurtz and his hunger for power which leads to his ultimate descent into madness. This concept can be related to the adage that "power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Kurtz was made into a god by the natives but his imperfect humanity was unable to support the weight of that obligation. Conrad makes the obvious point here about potential consequences of the imperialist mandate, but he also is speaking to the deeper notion of man's fundamental drive to be god of his own world and the danger inherent in that quest.

1 Reply | Hide Replies

user profile pic

user890483 | Student , Kindergarten | eNoter

Posted March 19, 2014 at 4:21 PM (Reply #1)

dislike 0 like

will you please help me to explain it more...

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes