Heart of Darkness Questions and Answers
by Joseph Conrad

Heart of Darkness book cover
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In Heart of Darkness, look at Marlow’s response to Kurtz. What other motifs in the novel can you connect to Marlow’s emphasis on his lack of restraint, the fact of his eloquence when he is actually “hollow at the core”? Examine Marlow’s feelings about Kurtz and the manager. What changes in attitude is Marlow experiencing? How does he feel about each of these men by the time they begin the journey back down the river and as that journey progresses?

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A lot of the drama of Heart of Darkness deals with the emotion of fear—not just fear of something external, but fear of what lies inside. As Marlow travels further down the river and draws nearer to Kurtz, most of what he fears could be categorized as things people would rather not know.

It's difficult to say if and how Marlow is disappointed when he finally meets Kurtz. He has heard so much about that man over the course of his stay in Africa, a lot of it controversial and contrary. Back in the more "civilized" parts, Marlow thinks of him as just a man. A remarkable man, perhaps, but still. It's possible for him to consider the varying reports and logically conclude that the majority of it is hyperbole, fear, disgust, and awe. At that stage, Kurtz appears to be a powerful character who fascinates him.

The journey down the river has been thoroughly discussed and widely accepted to be a symbol of a decent to madness, of drawing closer to the heart of darkness. The more Marlow sees just how...

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