Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness

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Heart of Darkness

Setting: The author placed the novel’s setting on a stream boat on a river near London. "The Nellie, a cruising yawl, swung to her anchor without a flutter of the sails, and was at rest" (1). Then the narrator tells his story in a flash back which he tells about Marlow’s experiences in the African jungle specifically on the Congo river. The majority of the story is told in flash back about the voyage in to the heart of darkness.

Characters: The central character is obviously Marlow. He is a man of modesty and courage, which are not stereotypical traits of a sailor which he has become. The book focuses morally on his personal character and then describes to the norm of the rest of the world. The character that Marlow becomes obsessed with later is Kurtz. He is a mysterious dark man who made money trading ivory down the Congo river. "'In the interior you will no doubt meet Mr. Kurtz.' On my asking who Mr. Kurtz was, he said he was a first-class agent" (85) here Marlow is talking to a captain and first finds out about Kurtz. Later he finds out that he transports ivory. Among other insignificant characters on the boat deck of the Nellli were a lawyer and an accountant. Their role seemed as only to be and audience to Marlow and the other unnamed narrator.

Point of View: The point of view is from Marlow, but the tale is told from a nameless observer. This is the reason why the novel is in third person, and Marlow’s is refereed to also in third person. Marlow sat cross-legged right aft, leaning against the mizzenmast. He had sunken cheeks, a yellow complexion, a straight back, an ascetic aspect, and, with his arms dropped, the palms of hands outwards, resembled an idol. (69) Also the previous quote shows a honest virtue by being compared to as someone to look up to.

Action: The story begins with Marlow and four other characters on a boat in the Thames river. The story line then goes into a flashback, and tells Marlow’s story of his adventures in the Congo. He has a connection to become a steam boat captain, but when he arrives at the first station he finds out that his boat is at the bottom of the river. Also Marlow has to rise the boat and repair it with inferior tools.

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