Heart of Darkness

related topics
{god, call, give}
{theory, work, human}
{film, series, show}
{black, white, people}
{land, century, early}
{son, year, death}
{country, population, people}
{city, large, area}
{island, water, area}
{line, north, south}
{@card@, make, design}
{car, race, vehicle}

Heart of Darkness is a novella written by Joseph Conrad. Before its 1902 publication, it appeared as a three-part series (1899) in Blackwood's Magazine. It is widely regarded as a significant work of English literature[1] and part of the Western canon.

The story tells of Charles Marlow, an Englishman who took a foreign assignment from a Belgian trading company as a ferry-boat captain in Africa. Heart of Darkness exposes the dark side of European colonization while exploring the three levels of darkness that the protagonist, Marlow, encounters: the darkness of the Congo wilderness, the darkness of the Europeans' cruel treatment of the natives, and the unfathomable darkness within every human being for committing heinous acts of evil.[2] Although Conrad does not give the name of the river, at the time of writing the Congo Free State, the location of the large and important Congo River, was a private colony of Belgium's King Leopold II. Marlow is employed to transport ivory downriver. However, his more pressing assignment is to return Kurtz, another ivory trader, to civilization, in a cover-up. Kurtz has a reputation throughout the region.

This symbolic story is a story within a story or frame narrative. It follows Marlow as he recounts from dusk through to late night, to a group of men aboard a ship anchored in the Thames Estuary his Congolese adventure. The passage of time and the darkening sky during the fictitious narrative-within-the-narrative parallel the atmosphere of the story.

Contents

Background

Eight and a half years before writing the book, Conrad had gone to serve as the captain of a Congo steamer. On arriving in the Congo, he found his steamer damaged and under repair. He became sick and returned to Europe before serving as captain. Some of Conrad's experiences in the Congo and the story's historic background, including possible models for Kurtz are recounted in Adam Hochschild's King Leopold's Ghost.[3]

The story-within-a-story device (called framed narrative by literary critics) that Conrad chose for Heart of Darkness — one in which Charles Marlow relates to other characters his account of his journey — has many literary precedents. Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein used a similar device but the best known examples are Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, The Arabian Nights, Samuel Taylor Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Boccaccio's Decameron.

Full article ▸

related documents
Golden age
Martyr
Corinthian (comics)
Angra Mainyu
The Great Divorce
Banquo
Polyphemus
Aeneid
Ma'at
Gnome
Proteus
Hobbit
Drow (Dungeons & Dragons)
Philistines
Spirit possession
Merlin
The Bacchae
Olokun
Antisemitism in the New Testament
Ennead
Inuit mythology
Oracle
Dylan Ail Don
Hephaestus
Varuna
Rumi
Harpy
Gullveig
Apis (Egyptian mythology)
Tomte