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Heart of Darkness

by Joseph Conrad

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1. Because of his experiences in Poland, Conrad hated totalitarianism. What evidence do you see of this hatred in Heart of Darkness?

2. Marlow opens his story by saying that, during Roman times, England was the heart of the uncivilized world. What point is Marlow trying to make?

3. Why does Kurtz instruct the natives to attack Marlow, who is coming to rescue him?

4. Conrad, who himself experienced exile and loneliness as a child, wrote numerous stories about isolated characters. Does Kurtz's isolation have anything to do with his decline? What inner resources does a person need to survive?

5. Why doesn't Marlow tell Kurtz's fiancee the truth about Kurtz's final words?

6. What is the significance of Marlow's thinking the Congo River is a snake?

7. What has Marlow learned from his journey? Why does he almost not escape from Africa?

8. What is the importance of Africa as a setting for the novella? Could the story have taken place in any other location and still have the same meaning?

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