Book: Heart Of Darkness

Author: Joseph Conrad

Rating: 3.5/5

Heart Of Darkness-Joseph Conrad

The story tells of Charles Marlow, an Englishman who takes up work with a Belgian trading company as the captain of a ferry boat. His first assignment is to go to the heart of Africa, the “dark continent” and ship ivory downriver. But this is just a cover up for the more important task of bringing back Kurtz from Africa. The recovery of Kurtz is the most important part of the story and the entire action of the novella moves towards this one single incident.

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Social/Historical context:

The experiences of Charles Marlow as narrated in the novella are largely autobiographical. Conrad had himself worked as a ferry boat captain in the African continent. The story is set in the starting of the twentieth century when European imperialism was at its peak. It describes the trading work and “civilising mission” carried on by the Belgian Trading Company under King Leopold II and the consequent destruction of the African continent and its natives.

Writing Style:

The novella is written as a story within a story. It begins with the frame narrator describing Marlow and his friends sitting aboard the boat “Nellie”. Marlow is introduced as a “Buddha” sitting in a meditative pose. The narrative thread is then taken up by Marlow himself who then goes on to recount his experiences in the Congo. The narration is taken up sometimes by the frame narrator and sometimes by Marlow, and at some points it is difficult to distinguish who is speaking. The story is divided into three parts, each part ending on a significant point in the story. Although Kurtz is a looming presence in the story right from the beginning, we are actually introduced to his character only in the third part.

My Thoughts:

Since Marlow is an Englishman, on the surface he seems to be supporting and celebrating the popular European attitude towards imperialism. He seems to believe in the civilizing mission carried on by the European nations. But beneath this apparent frame of mind, we can sense his horror at the brutality and squalor of the imperial mission. Throughout the novel are scattered several symbols depicting the rapacity of the white men. The story also brings into sharp contrast white men as “civilized beings” and the African natives as “brutes”. This is an enlightening book by a writer who had experienced the ills of imperialism himself.

Book Reviewed By Prerna Gupta

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What Other Visitors Have Said

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I agree with you Rana 
I agree with you Rana to a great extent...the book has multiple layers of meaning and cannot be interpreted in just the colonial context(though that is …

it its good and very interesting Not rated yet
for me it seems like Conrad is really good in writing this one, although it was hard to read at first but when you go on with your readings you will see …

Yes Not rated yet
Thanks for your wonderful rendering of Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Both Kurtz and Marlow had always haunted me in my dreams and nighmares since my first …

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