Conrad’s "Heart of Darkness"": Few Brief Sketches



Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness (published 1902)

The name of the boat on which Marlow narrated his tale: The name of the cruising yawl is veiled and it was anchored in the sea-beach of the Thames.

The persons listening to Marlow’s tale: Other than the narrator Charlie Marlow, the others listening to the tale on the Neille were the Director of the companies who was also the captain and host, the Lawyer, the accountant and finally the frame narrator.

The prime narrator describing Marlow’s posture: Marlow is described as a man with sunken cheeks, a yellow complexion, a straight back, an ascetic attitude and sitting cross-legged with the palms of hands outwards, resembling an idol. The prime narrator also describes him as having the pose of a Buddha preaching in European clothes and without a lotus flower. The resemblance to Buddha is repeated throughout the novel, and suggests that yellow too has received enlightenment and that he too has a mission to preach. In his case the enlightenment is the one regarding the evil talent in the human heart.




“And as I looked at the map of it in a shop window it fascinated me as a snake would a bird” –Marlow says this about keeping his childhood resolve exploring one of the blank spaces on the earth, The sight of the river Congo River in Africa, a river which resembles on uncoiled snake.  The fascinated bird is none other than of its dangers.

 ‘I arrived in a city that always makes me think of a white sepulcher’ –Marlow says about Brussels, the caption of Belgium. The phrase whited sepulcher occurs in Christs indictment of Pharisees (Mathew 23:27). In Biblical language the phrase stands for hypocrite.

Fresleven:- Fresleven exemplifies the transformation of man under the influence of the wilderness in London. He was a very gentle and the quiet Dane who had a quarrel with the native Negros regarding the buying of two black hens. He beat up an old negro and in consequence was killed by the man’s son.

Marlow’s job: Marlow’s aunt, a very influential lady in London arranged for Marlow’s employment in a company which would send him to Africa. She thought that he was going in the philanthropic mission of civilizing the Negros.

Kurtz’s last words: Kurtz’s last words were “The Horror ! The horror.” The phrase is his summing a judgment about his own life. He had declared with condor and conviction the appalling truth about a life when had been driven insane by the wilderness. Marlow doesn't  tell Kurtz's fiancée the truth about Kurtz's final words

The illusion saved The Intended from the triumphant darkness:- The saving illusion of the Intended was that Kurtz lived the life of an altruist and that his death was worthy of him.

Marlow offered to the person who had come for Kurtz’s document: Marlow only offered him the report on the “suppression of savage customs” .                                          

The post- scripts torn off: The post script contained the anticlimactic words of the supposed philanthropist: “Exterminate all the brutes”.

  1. The importance of Africa as a setting for the novella
  2. Marlow's journey is a descent to the underworld, similar to Dante's in The Divine Comedy.
  3. Watch the film Apocalypse Now and compare it to the novella.
  4. The uses of light and dark or black and white imagery
  5. The psychological landscape of the characters
  6. The story about Kurtz, Marlow, or someone else?
  7. Conrad hatred totalitarianism                                                                              Ardhendu De

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