Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

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

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Blaze Bergstrom eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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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 even more so it is a figurative journey from light into the darkness of the title. At the same time, as Marlow learns more about the Congo and about his mysterious subject (Kurtz), the journey can be considered one of enlightenment which culminates in Marlow’s meeting with Kurtz and understanding his character.

Marlow stops at three stations, each of which presents a new set of obstacles which he must either accept or change. One way that he comes to understand the colonial territory is that it often presents barriers that cannot be overcome. Marlow becomes complicit in the enterprise that he had expected merely to observe. As long as he accepts his mission of continuing upriver, he also agrees to the conditions that support his moving along.

The first stop in some ways makes the strongest...

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