Heart of Darkness Questions and Answers
by Joseph Conrad

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Why does Conrad speak about the Roman conquest in Heart of Darkness and why is Marlow is compared to Buddha?

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Joseph Conrad offers two starkly contrasting images in the lines that Marlow speaks and in the narrator’s description of the man. The military, aggressive domination of one society over the other is diametrically opposed to the spread of a belief system founded in the renunciation of elitism and in the spreading of peace. While Marlow has not been part of an invading army, neither has he been an apostle of peace. His physical attributes show that Marlow occupies the intersection of deeply conflictual value systems even as his experiences have intensified his inner conflicts.

Back home in England after his adventures in Africa, Marlow muses on ancient Roman military incursions into Britain. Two millennia earlier, the Romans were the hostile invaders, understanding themselves as “civilized” men. Marlow imagines a typical man’s experience:

Land in a swamp, march through the woods, and in some inland post feel the savagery, the utter savagery, had closed round him—all that mysterious...

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