Heart of Darkness Questions and Answers
by Joseph Conrad

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How is Heart of Darkness an epic journey into the underworld symbolized by the Congo?

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The "journey to the underworld" is a theme present in the mythologies of cultures around the world. It typically involves a living hero physically traveling into the realm of the dead in order to retrieve some person or object, or to receive knowledge from the dead which the hero needs in order to proceed with his/her quest.

Conrad's Heart of Darkness is a very interesting example of this trope. The hero, Marlow, must journey to the depths of central Africa to find Kurtz and bring him back to Europe. He manages to locate Kurtz and bring him partway home, but the pull of the "underworld" is ultimately too great for Kurtz, who dies before Marlow can return him to civilization.

Several elements of the classic journey to the underworld are evident in Heart of Darkness. For instance, all journeys to the underworld involve the hero crossing some kind of physical threshold, such as a bridge, a river, or the entrance to a cave, which demarcates the world of the living from the world of the dead. In

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