Heart of Darkness Questions and Answers
by Joseph Conrad

Heart of Darkness book cover
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Discuss the narrator of the story Heart of Darkness. How does Marlowe’s story affect him?

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Heart of Darkness is frame narrative, meaning Marlowe's tale is embedded in a larger story or frame. This frame is a very small one—a few paragraphs at the beginning of the novel and one at the end. Yet it provides an important grounding for the story. Marlowe is on board the ship called the Nellie, which is on the Thames. He is speaking to a group of a sailors, so this is initially an oral narraive, not a written one. The story he tells is grounded in a series of associations that arise out of Marlowe being on a boat in a particular place. The Thames, through the narrator's and Marlowe's observations of it, connects the reader both to the past--the Roman conquest of Britain—and the present, as the conduit through which ships pass on their own ways of commercial conquest across the globe.

The unnamed narrator has a small role in the story, but an...

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