Heart of Darkness Questions and Answers
by Joseph Conrad

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How is the British Empire depicted in Heart of Darkness? How does imperialism function within the novel, both thematically and as a plot device?

In Heart of Darkness, the British Empire is depicted as greedy and heartless, using the lives and resources of others for their own gain. Imperialism functions in the novel as the reason behind all the horrifying events and images Marlow witnesses in Africa.

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Heart of Darkness centers on the traumatic experience of Charles Marlow, an English seaman, down the coast of Africa. While in Congo, Marlow witnesses the horrors brought about by the British Empire and their commercial exploits in Africa.

In the novel, the British Empire takes advantage of Africa’s less technologically advanced society by harvesting their resources—such as ivory—and converting them into products to be shipped and sold in other countries. Apart from this, the British Empire also enslaves...

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