Questions and Answers for Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness

What are the narrative techniques in Heart of Darkness?

Conrad's use of a frame narrative in Heart of Darkness—a story within a story, as it were—enables the author to distance himself from the horrors of colonial exploitation while at the same time...

Latest answer posted January 6, 2021 2:53 pm UTC

6 educator answers

Heart of Darkness

What is "The horror, The horror" in Heart Of Darkness? They are the Kurtz dying words.

One of the beautiful elements of Kurtz's final words are the multiple levels on which they work. Not only is Kurtz reflecting on his own life and experiences, but he is also commenting on misguided...

Latest answer posted May 16, 2010 11:54 pm UTC

2 educator answers

Heart of Darkness

In "Heart of Darkness", how were the cannibals more civilized than the pilgrims?

As Marlow and his crew approach Kurtz's Central Station, he compares the behavior and stoic personalities of the cannibals with the terrified white pilgrims. While the cannibals have the awful...

Latest answer posted June 1, 2018 10:55 am UTC

2 educator answers

Heart of Darkness

In Heart of Darkness, what is the significance of the Eldorado Exploring Expedition?

The Eldorado Exploring Expedition is a group of five white men who come downriver to seek treasure, one of whom is the Station Manager's uncle. Their purpose is to find treasure and exploit African...

Latest answer posted June 25, 2012 8:31 pm UTC

1 educator answer

Heart of Darkness

In Heart of Darkness, how are the two women outside the secretary's office symbolic?  

As was mentioned in the previous post, the two women Marlow interacts with during his doctor's visit symbolize two of the three Fates found in Greek mythology. The Fates were personified as three...

Latest answer posted April 6, 2017 10:01 am UTC

2 educator answers

Heart of Darkness

In Heart of Darkness, outside Kurtz's home are some decorative poles topped with balls. No fence connects them. What...

When Marlow finally makes it to Kurtz in the depths of the rainforest, he finds a disturbing site. The poles outside Kurtz' home are not merely decorative balls. They are human heads. The full...

Latest answer posted June 18, 2013 6:08 pm UTC

1 educator answer

Heart of Darkness

What is the importance of the frame story in Heart of Darkness?

The frame story of Heart of Darkness is important in a couple of ways. Conrad tells us the story of the novel through his created middleman, Marlow. In the frame story, Marlow is telling of his...

Latest answer posted November 22, 2019 1:50 pm UTC

4 educator answers

Heart of Darkness

How many women characters are to be found in the Heart of Darkness? Would you consider Conrad to be a misogynist?

There are only three female characters in Heart of Darkness of any note: Marlow's aunt, Kurtz's mistress/concubine, and Kurtz's fiance. It would not be unfair to describe the role of all as...

Latest answer posted April 11, 2020 11:25 am UTC

1 educator answer

Heart of Darkness

In Heart of Darkness, what does Kurtz mean by his final words at the end of his writings when he writes "exterminate...

It's important to state from the outset that there's no definitive answer to this question. As a previous contributor has rightly noted, Kurtz is an enigmatic character, and so, inevitably, many of...

Latest answer posted January 21, 2018 10:45 am UTC

2 educator answers

Heart of Darkness

In Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, are the "pilgrims" not a reference to missionaries?

In Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, the pilgrims are not missionaries. They are called pilgrims, it seems, because they carry long staves or poles. They are agents, employed at the Central...

Latest answer posted April 26, 2012 4:36 am UTC

1 educator answer

Heart of Darkness

Why does Marlow go to the Congo and why is he so obsessed with meeting Kurtz?

Marlow wants to go to the Congo because he has always been obsessed with the river. When he was little, he used to peer at maps, and the Congo, which resembled a snake that had uncoiled itself, was...

Latest answer posted August 18, 2018 12:58 pm UTC

3 educator answers

Heart of Darkness

In Heart of Darkness, what was Kurtz's paper about?

Marlow recalls reading Kurtz's report to the International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs and begins by commenting on the paper's eloquence. As Marlow reiterates the first paragraph,...

Latest answer posted June 11, 2018 11:17 pm UTC

3 educator answers

Heart of Darkness

In Heart of Darkness, what does the helmsman symbolize and how is he significant?

In addition, the helmsman lacks restraint, a quality Marlow very much admires. The cannibals, oddly enough, do have restraint, for even when they exhaust their food supply of hippo meat and go...

Latest answer posted November 13, 2008 10:09 am UTC

2 educator answers

Heart of Darkness

In Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, discuss Marlow’s attitudes toward the natives. What do they mean to him?

Initially, Marlow doesn't really think much about indigenous Africans. He's going to the Congo for purely selfish reasons—to make money exploiting the natives—so he doesn't regard them as anything...

Latest answer posted February 13, 2020 9:45 am UTC

2 educator answers

Heart of Darkness

Darkness In Heart Of Darkness

To answer this, we need to come to an understanding of the Western attitude of Conrad's period regarding the colonial empires that had been established. One often hears Africa described in the...

Latest answer posted December 1, 2019 5:52 am UTC

2 educator answers

Heart of Darkness

Examine the meaning of, "We live in the flicker-may it last as long as the old earth keeps rolling."

Marlow makes this statement in the opening of the novel, the frame section in which another first-person narrator introduces us to him and allows him to launch into his long story. This narrator...

Latest answer posted July 15, 2019 12:53 am UTC

2 educator answers

Heart of Darkness

What are two ways Marlow changes on his journey, apart from how he sees Europeans and Africans and the latter's...

Marlow changes his position in relationship to imperialism, developing a more critical stance. This change involves his attitude toward The Company, as he comes to reject his previous endorsement...

Latest answer posted April 3, 2019 2:14 am UTC

2 educator answers

Heart of Darkness

In Heart of Darkness, how does Marlow describe the Romans who first discovered England?

In the frame story that opens the novel, a sailor records what Marlow says as they sit on a boat on the Thames, the river that flows past London to the sea. Marlow muses about the Romans who first...

Latest answer posted December 19, 2019 4:02 am UTC

3 educator answers

Heart of Darkness

Discuss Kurtz' last words in Heart of Darkness.  What is their significance?  How does Marlow interpret them?    

Kurtz’s last words, “The horror! The horror!” have been widely debated by critics and could have multiple meanings. On the surface, it seems that he is referring to the horrors he has witnessed...

Latest answer posted April 6, 2016 3:36 pm UTC

1 educator answer

Heart of Darkness

What's the role of the Black Mistress in Heart of Darkness?

Kurtz's black mistress serves to emphasize the extent to which Kurtz has gone native, so to speak. He's been out in Africa for so long that he's started to become more African and decidedly less...

Latest answer posted December 5, 2019 10:20 am UTC

5 educator answers

Heart of Darkness

Do the pilgrims represent slaves in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness?

I don't think the "pilgrims"—not actual pilgrims, but company men, looking to go upriver in quest of ivory—"represent" slaves; for Conrad, the actual slaves are more than capable of representing...

Latest answer posted July 17, 2019 1:02 pm UTC

2 educator answers

Heart of Darkness

What are differences between Kurtz and Marlow in Conrad's Heart of Darkness?

There are a great deal of differences between Kurtz and Marlow in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, most of which stem from the fact that Marlow functions primarily as a narrator, while Kurtz...

Latest answer posted April 26, 2016 3:32 am UTC

1 educator answer

Heart of Darkness

Marlow says, “The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different...

Conrad's Heart of Darkness is without question a damning critique of the horrendous suffering inflicted on the populations of colonized nations by their rulers, both sovereign and corporate. Yet...

Latest answer posted October 25, 2018 11:43 pm UTC

2 educator answers

Heart of Darkness

To what is the Doctor referring when he tells Marlow,"The changes take place inside, you know"?

This statement is part of Conrad's backlash against Enlightenment thinking. Proponents of the ideology believed all questions could be eventually be answered by science; Conrad casts some serious...

Latest answer posted April 13, 2008 8:29 am UTC

1 educator answer

Heart of Darkness

How are the natives presented in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness?

Joseph Conrad's novel Heart of Darkness is a serious indictment of the consequences, both physical and moral, of European colonialism, with the "natives" depicted as the pathetic, beaten-down...

Latest answer posted June 9, 2015 6:14 pm UTC

1 educator answer

Heart of Darkness

How does Marlow change throughout the novella Heart of Darkness?

Marlow grows in awareness of imperialism's evil as he travels into the Belgian Congo. Notably, it is his aunt, a female, who helps him get the job. She believes Europeans are doing good by going to...

Latest answer posted July 4, 2020 12:28 pm UTC

4 educator answers

Heart of Darkness

In Heart of Darkness, how are Marlow and Kurtz similar or different? 

Both Marlow and Kurtz are symbols of the mechanism by which colonization took place and was sustained. A trope of much colonialist literature and of representations of the European experience in...

Latest answer posted September 5, 2019 5:22 pm UTC

3 educator answers

Heart of Darkness

What does the "company" in the Heart of Darkness symbolize?

The company in this novel is the root of evil—it is the dark stain that corrupts the hearts of the men in the novel as well as ravaging the unspoiled lands of Africa. The company is greed and...

Latest answer posted November 21, 2019 6:29 pm UTC

4 educator answers

Heart of Darkness

In Heart of Darkness, how does Conrad create the "atmosphere" or "mood" in the novel?

Conrad's title, Heart of Darkness, refers most obviously to the interior of what was once known as the Congo in Africa—that had for many years, been a non-navigable source of mystery. The Congo was...

Latest answer posted May 9, 2013 5:23 pm UTC

1 educator answer

Heart of Darkness

Discuss the symbolism of the river as a snake in Heart of Darkness.

Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness introduces the reader to Marlow, who dreamt his whole life of traveling into Africa. He is given a chance in the form of a rescue mission to locate Kurtz, the...

Latest answer posted May 25, 2018 5:53 pm UTC

3 educator answers

Heart of Darkness

In Heart of Darkness, who is the narrator at the beginning of the story?

Joseph Conrad uses a framing device to set up the story that Marlow will tell. The narrator is a fellow traveler or boatman aboard the Nellie; the author never gives this person's name. Using this...

Latest answer posted June 29, 2019 3:35 am UTC

2 educator answers

Heart of Darkness

What is odd about Kurtz's paper in "Heart of Darkness"?

Kurtz's report for the International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs is a seventeen-page treatise written in "eloquent" but "high-strung" language. It is, Marlow...

Latest answer posted September 21, 2008 4:35 am UTC

1 educator answer

Heart of Darkness

In Heart of Darkness, what does Marlow say about the Roman imperial project?

Before beginning his own story about his experience in the Congo, Marlow muses about the "old times" when the Romans first traveled to Britain. Marlow initially mentions that currently the men on...

Latest answer posted August 19, 2017 8:32 pm UTC

2 educator answers

Heart of Darkness

What parts of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness show foreshadowing?

In Joseph Conrad's novel, Heart of Darkness, foreshadowing can be found in many places, not obvious until the story is finished and we can look back at the clues left for the reader. I sense...

Latest answer posted March 5, 2011 11:43 am UTC

1 educator answer

Heart of Darkness

What role does the harlequin have in Heart of Darkness?

The Harlequin/Russian trader acts as a means of characterizing Kurtz. We gain most of our information about Kurtz through him. The harlequin gives us a rather warped view of Kurtz. He speaks of him...

Latest answer posted April 22, 2018 9:52 am UTC

4 educator answers

Heart of Darkness

Why does Marlow describe the accountant as a miracle?

When Marlow arrives at the Company's Outer Station, he is appalled by the despicable conditions and disorganization of the entire operation. Marlow witnesses decaying machinery, inefficient work...

Latest answer posted April 23, 2019 5:58 pm UTC

2 educator answers

Heart of Darkness

What do the stations symbolize in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness?

As Marlow narrates his journey up the river, each stop represents a change in his perspective on the colonial society into which he progresses. This is a literally journey between the stations, but...

Latest answer posted November 30, 2019 10:19 pm UTC

2 educator answers

Heart of Darkness

How do you think Marlow felt about Kurtz?  Explain on which part of the novella you are basing your answer.

Marlow’s feelings about Kurtz begin with mild interest about the missing Company agent, supposedly the best agent in the Company’s entire territory. He gleans from other people’s opinions of Kurtz...

Latest answer posted September 19, 2018 9:33 am UTC

3 educator answers

Heart of Darkness

In Heart of Darkness, what is Marlow's view of the meaning of life?

Marlow's conception of the meaning of life is that it lies in maintaining illusions, even against logic and reality. When he goes to the Congo, Marlow wants fervently to believe in Kurtz, the...

Latest answer posted April 28, 2018 10:13 pm UTC

2 educator answers

Heart of Darkness

How does the helmsman die in Heart of Darkness?

A short distance from Kurtz's Inner Station, Marlow's crew is forced to remain anchored because the extremely thick fog prevents them from traveling further down the river. All of a sudden, the...

Latest answer posted March 1, 2018 9:33 am UTC

3 educator answers

Heart of Darkness

How are the issues of race and imperialism woven into "Heart of Darkness"?

Both race (or even racism) and imperialism are treated as the common attitudes of white people at the time the book takes place. This book is set on the river Thames around the turn of the 20th...

Latest answer posted September 2, 2010 9:05 pm UTC

1 educator answer

Heart of Darkness

In The Heart of Darkness, what is the symbolic significance of Kurtz's last words "The horror! The horror!" ?

Your question clearly points to four of the most well-known words in the English language when we think of literature! I think it is important to discuss what Marlow thinks of what Kurtz says and...

Latest answer posted October 4, 2010 1:51 am UTC

1 educator answer

Heart of Darkness

What significance lies in Marlow's references to maps? How do they represent the novella's frequent opposition...

Even as a child Marlow was fascinated by the "blank spaces" on maps, areas that hadn't been explored. He yearned to visit those exotic lands. As the blank places are explored and mapped,...

Latest answer posted September 27, 2008 1:56 am UTC

1 educator answer

Heart of Darkness

What are external and internal conflicts in Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad?

Conrad's Heart of Darkness includes numerous examples of internal and external conflict. Marlow is hired by the company that also employs Kurtz, their most successful harvester of ivory. Marlow’s...

Latest answer posted November 3, 2017 1:58 am UTC

2 educator answers

Heart of Darkness

What does "the earth seemed unearthly" mean in Heart of Darkness?

If something is unearthly it is not of this earth; it is something strange, weird, unusual, even frightening. On the face of it, it may seem somewhat bizarre for Marlow to describe the earth in...

Latest answer posted April 21, 2020 7:35 am UTC

4 educator answers

Heart of Darkness

Who is in the second station in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness?

In Joseph Conrad's novel, Heart of Darkness, there are three stations that Marlow visits on his trip through the Congo. The second station is called the Central Station. It is at this location that...

Latest answer posted March 1, 2011 6:09 am UTC

1 educator answer

Heart of Darkness

How does Marlow choose the path “less traveled by” with his choice of Kurtz as his nightmare?

Marlow, from Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, is not a typical seaman and has a philosophical edge to him which is what allows this journey to become so much more than a physical trip. Kurtz is...

Latest answer posted February 27, 2014 11:41 am UTC

1 educator answer

Heart of Darkness

What book does Marlow find in the reed hut in the jungle? How does he feel when he puts the book away? Why?

The book Marlowe finds in the hit is a book about seamanship: An Inquiry Into Some Points of Seamanship, by an author whose name he cannot quite make out—perhaps Towson, or Tower. Marlowe is amazed...

Latest answer posted April 23, 2018 11:20 am UTC

3 educator answers

Heart of Darkness

How is the title of Heart of Darkness justified?

The "Heart of Darkness" which pervades the story is not a place or a thing; it is a feeling that comes from looking inside one's self without the constraints of conscience, morals, or societal...

Latest answer posted March 5, 2013 10:49 pm UTC

2 educator answers

Heart of Darkness

In one section of Heart of Darkness, the narrator and his companions are sailing on the River Thames near London,...

In Heart of Darkness, Polish-English novelist Joseph Conrad (1857–1924) draws from his own experience in Africa; he once piloted a Belgian steamboat on a trading mission that took him through...

Latest answer posted October 4, 2019 5:05 am UTC

1 educator answer

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