Heart of Darkness Questions and Answers
by Joseph Conrad

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Conrad structures Heart of Darkness as a frame story. For a writer, what benefits does this structure provide?

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Using a frame story has a number of benefits. 

Often, as in the case of Conrad's novel, the frame story situates the central narrative as a "told story". This metaphorically and practically links the novel's narrative to traditions of story-telling and folklore

The connection with folklore is especially significant as folklore is and was laden with symbolism and charged with the power of myth.

Not only does folklore entertain, but it passes on the culture and behavior models of a people, which psychologist Carl Jung called “the collective unconscious.”

As a literary type, folklore uses representative figures to tell stories that work like allegory - expressing ideas that are meant to communicate social truths, human truths, and ideas that extend beyond the actual narrative. 

Conrad's novel can be understood in these terms.

In this somewhat ironic way, using a frame story to present a narrative offers a way to signify artistic intentions that go beyond both the central narrative...

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