Heart of Darkness Questions and Answers
by Joseph Conrad

Heart of Darkness book cover
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How does the structure of Conrad's Heart of Darkness affect its meaning?

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Heart of Darkness has a frame story in which a nameless narrator on a boat on the Thames, is listening to Marlow tell a tale of his journey into the heart of Africa as the pilot of a boat to find a mysterious European man named Kurtz. Marlow narrates the evils that he encounters on his journey.

The multiple layers of narrative lead the reader on a circuitous journey into the heart of Africa. The narrator does not take the reader right into the action; instead, the reader is first introduced to Marlow, and then Marlow leads the narrator, and the reader, on his journey. The layered narrative makes the reader feel some of the confusion and disorientation that Marlow feels as he journeys along the river in search of Kurtz. Conrad's narrative structure enhances the reader's confusion and aids his point that the horrors of the European atrocities in Africa are so inhumane as to be disorienting.

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Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness (1899 and 1902) is the famous story of a journey into Africa to find a...

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