Heart of Darkness Questions and Answers
by Joseph Conrad

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Why does Conrad use two narrators in the The Heart of Darkness?  

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Palma Ebert eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is a frame narrative, beginning from the view of an unnamed sailor on the Thames and taking us into the deep Congo in Africa through Marlow’s eyes, then back to the Thames as Marlow concludes his tale. The civilized frame of the Nellie serves to highlight the contrasts between this sailing vessel and Marlow’s Belgian-owned riverboat, which is ill-performing and in severe disrepair.

The frame narrative also provides the reader with a considerable distance from the immediate effects of imperialism. Conquering and being conquered is a subject of lazy musing in the first few pages of the novel, and the unnamed sailor thinks patriotically of knights and men like Francis Drake and their discoveries. This is later juxtaposed with Marlow’s face-to-face encounter with Kurtz , a European who has gone insane after a long stay in the jungle, and whose downward spiral is...

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Joseph Conrad in his narrative "the heart of darkness",uses two narrators.The first one being a non descriptive character and the second one being Marlow himself.He uses both the forms of narrators to create a frame for the narrative and also to create a sense of mystery and suspense.He presents the first narrator as someone who even the said listeners might listen and accept and the second narrator by suggesting that there is something extraordinary in the past of the hero that makes him unlike other men.