Suggested Essay Topics
1. From the very opening on the Thames in Heart of Darkness, when day mixes with night, Conrad uses images of light and dark. Traditionally, light represents “good” and dark represents “bad.” Does Conrad use these interpretations in the same way? What do his constant references to light and dark suggest about Marlow’s story? Remember, Africa is the “dark continent,” where the black natives live.
2. Conrad alters his narration by making Marlow jump back and forth in time. Marlow mentions people and events we won’t know about until later. Cite examples when he does this, and explain how it affects the story. What advantages are there in breaking the sequence of events? Why does he tell us some things, while withholding others?
3. In a sense, two narrators speak—a nameless “I” and Charlie Marlow. The narrator introduces Marlow, then tells us some of his ideas. When Marlow speaks, we see everything from his perspective. Suppose someone else told Marlow’s story? Say, perhaps, the narrator or, possibly, one of the people Marlow meets along his journey. How would the story change? Would the information and details be different?
4. After taking the steamer captained by the Swede, Marlow sees the blacks for the first time. Why does the sight of them appall him? Why is he bothered by the way they are treated? No one else seems to be disturbed by their condition, so why is...
(The entire section is 977 words.)
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