Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness

by Joseph Conrad
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Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

A masterpiece of twentieth-century writing, Heart of Darkness (1902) exposes the tenuous fabric that holds "civilization" together and the brutal horror at the center of European colonialism. Conrad's crowning achievement recounts Marlow's physical and psychological journey deep into the heart of the Belgian Congo in search of the mysterious trader Kurtz.

Joyce Carol Oates on Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness:

Heart of Darkness has had an influence that goes beyond the specifically literary. This parable of a man's 'heart of darkness' dramatized in the alleged 'Dark Continent' of Africa transcended its late Victorian era to acquire the stature of one of the great, if troubling, visionary works of western civilization."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781434101860
Publisher: Boomer Books
Publication date: 07/30/2008
Pages: 136
Product dimensions: 0.32(w) x 5.50(h) x 8.50(d)

About the Author

Paul B. Armstrong is Professor of English and former Dean of the College at Brown University. He was previously a professor and a dean at the University of Oregon and the State University of New York at Stony Brook. He has also taught at the University of Copenhagen, Georgia Institute of Technology, the Free University of Berlin, the University of Virginia, and the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the VisualArts. He is the author of How Literature Plays with the Brain: The Neuroscience of Reading and Art; Play and the Politics of Reading: The Social Uses of Modernist Form; Conflicting Readings: Variety and Validity in Interpretation; The Challenge of Bewilderment: Understanding and Representation in James, Conrad, and Ford; and The Phenomenology of Henry James. He is editor of the Norton Critical Edition of E. M.Forster’s Howards End and of the fourth and fifth Norton Critical Editions of Heart of Darkness.

Date of Birth:

December 3, 1857

Date of Death:

August 3, 1924

Place of Birth:

Berdiczew, Podolia, Russia

Place of Death:

Bishopsbourne, Kent, England


Tutored in Switzerland. Self-taught in classical literature. Attended maritime school in Marseilles, France

Read an Excerpt

The Nellie, a cruising yawl, swung to her anchor without a flutter of the sails, and was at rest. The flood had made, the wind was nearly calm, and being bound down the river, the only thing for it was to come to and wait for the turn of the tide.

The sea-reach of the Thames stretched before us like the beginning of an interminable waterway. In the offing the sea and the sky were welded together without a joint, and in the luminous space the tanned sails of the barges drifting up with the tide seemed to stand still in red clusters of canvas sharply peaked, with gleams of varnished sprits. A haze rested on the low shores that ran out to sea in vanishing flatness. The air was dark above Gravesend, and farther back still seemed condensed into a mournful gloom, brooding motionless over the biggest, and the greatest, town on earth.

The Director of Companies was our captain and our host. We four affectionately watched his back as he stood in the bows looking to seaward. On the whole river there was nothing that looked half so nautical. He resembled a pilot, which to a seaman is trustworthiness personified. It was difficult to realize his work was not out there in the luminous estuary, but behind him, within the brooding gloom.
Between us there was, as I have already said somewhere, the bond of the sea. Besides holding our hearts together through long periods of separation, it had the effect of making us tolerant of each other's yarns--and even convictions. The Lawyer--the best of old fellows&mdashhad, because of his many years and many virtues, the only cushion on deck, and was lying on the only rug. The Accountant had brought out already a box of dominoes, and wastoying architecturally with the bones. Marlow sat cross-legged right aft, leaning against the mizzen-mast. 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. The Director, satisfied the anchor had good hold, made his way aft and sat down amongst us. We exchanged a few words lazily. Afterwards there was silence on board the yacht. For some reason or other we did not begin that game of dominoes. We felt meditative, and fit for nothing but placid staring. The day was ending in a serenity of still and exquisite brilliance. The water shone pacifically; the sky, without a speck, was a benign immensity of unstained light; the very mist on the Essex marshes was like a gauzy and radiant fabric, hung from the wooded rises inland, and draping the low shores in diaphanous folds. Only the gloom to the west, brooding over the upper reaches, became more sombre every minute, as if angered by the approach of the sun.

And at last, in its curved and imperceptible fall, the sun sank low, and from glowing white changed to a dull red without rays and without heat, as if about to go out suddenly, stricken to death by the touch of that gloom brooding over a crowd of men.

Forthwith a change came over the waters, and the serenity became less brilliant but more profound. The old river in its broad reach rested unruffled at the decline of day, after ages of good service done to the race that peopled its banks, spread out in the tranquil dignity of a waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth. We looked at the venerable stream not in the vivid flush of a short day that comes and departs for ever, but in the august light of abiding memories. And indeed nothing is easier for a man who has, as the phrase goes, 'followed the sea' with reverence and affection, than to evoke the great spirit of the past upon the lower reaches of the Thames. The tidal current runs to and fro in its unceasing service, crowded with memories of men and ships it had borne to the rest of home or to the battles of the sea. It had known and served all the men of whom the nation is proud, from Sir Francis Drake to Sir John Franklin, knights all, titled and untitled--the great knights-errant of the sea. It had borne all the ships whose names are like jewels flashing in the night of time, from the Golden Hind returning with her round flanks full of treasure, to be visited by the Queen's Highness and thus pass out of the gigantic tale, to the Erebus and Terror, bound on other conquests--and that never returned. It had known the ships and the men. They had sailed from Deptford, from Greenwich, from Erith--the adventurers and the settlers; kings' ships and the ships of men on 'Change; captains, admirals, the dark 'interlopers' of the Eastern trade, and the commissioned 'generals' of East India fleets. Hunters for gold or pursuers of fame, they all had gone out on that stream, bearing the sword, and often the torch, messengers of the might within the land, bearers of a spark from the sacred fire. What greatness had not floated on the ebb of that river into the mystery of an unknown earth! . . . The dreams of men, the seed of commonwealths, the germs of empires.

The sun set; the dusk fell on the stream, and lights began to appear along the shore. The Chapman lighthouse, a three-legged thing erect on a mud-flat, shone strongly. Lights of ships moved in the fairway&mdasha great stir of lights going up and going down. And farther west on the upper reaches the place of the monstrous town was still marked ominously on the sky, a brooding gloom in sunshine, a lurid glare under the stars.

'And this also,' said Marlow suddenly, 'has been one of the dark places of the earth.'

He was the only man of us who still 'followed the sea.' The worst that could be said of him was that he did not represent his class. He was a seaman, but he was a wanderer, too, while most seamen lead, if one may so express it, a sedentary life. Their minds are of the stay-at-home order, and their home is always with them--the ship; and so is their country--the sea. One ship is very much like another, and the sea is always the same. In the immutability of their surroundings the foreign shores, the foreign faces, the changing immensity of life, glide past, veiled not by a sense of mystery but by a slightly disdainful ignorance; for there is nothing mysterious to a seaman unless it be the sea itself, which is the mistress of his existence and as inscrutable as Destiny. For the rest, after his hours of work, a casual stroll or a casual spree on shore suffices to unfold for him the secret of a whole continent, and generally he finds the secret not worth knowing. The yarns of seamen have a direct simplicity, the whole meaning of which lies within the shell of a cracked nut. But Marlow was not typical (if his propensity to spin yarns be excepted), and to him the meaning of an episode was not inside like a kernel but outside, enveloping the tale which brought it out only as a glow brings out a haze, in the likeness of one of these misty halos that sometimes are made visible by the spectral illumination of moonshine.

His remark did not seem at all surprising. It was just like Marlow. It was accepted in silence. No one took the trouble to grunt even; and presently he said, very slow--

'I was thinking of very old times, when the Romans first came here, nineteen hundred years ago--the other day . . . Light came out of this river since--you say Knights? Yes; but it is like a running blaze on a plain, like a flash of lightning in the clouds. We live in the flicker--may it last as long as the old earth keeps rolling! But darkness was here yesterday. Imagine the feelings of a commander of a fine--what d'ye call 'em?--trireme in the Mediterranean, ordered suddenly to the north; run overland across the Gauls in a hurry; put in charge of one of these craft the legionaries--a wonderful lot of handy men they must have been, too--used to build, apparently by the hundred, in a month or two, if we may believe what we read. Imagine him here--the very end of the world, a sea the colour of lead, a sky the colour of smoke, a kind of ship about as rigid as a concertina&mdashand going up this river with stores, or orders, or what you like. Sand-banks, marshes, forests, savages,--precious little to eat fit for a civilized man, nothing but Thames water to drink. No Falernian wine here, no going ashore. Here and there a military camp lost in a wilderness, like a needle in a bundle of hay--cold, fog, tempests, disease, exile, and death--death skulking in the air, in the water, in the bush. They must have been dying like flies here. Oh, yes--he did it. Did it very well, too, no doubt, and without thinking much about it either, except afterwards to brag of what he had done through his time, perhaps. They were men enough to face the darkness. And perhaps he was cheered by keeping his eye on a chance of promotion to the fleet at Ravenna by-and-by, if he had good friends in Rome and survived the awful climate. Or think of a decent young citizen in a toga--perhaps too much dice, you know--coming out here in the train of some prefect, or tax-gatherer, or trader even, to mend his fortunes. Land in a swamp, march through the woods, and in some inland post feel the savagery, the utter savagery, had closed round him,--hall that mysterious life of the wilderness that stirs in the forest, in the jungles, in the hearts of wild men. There's no initiation either into such mysteries. He has to live in the midst of the incomprehensible, which is also detestable. And it has a fascination, too, that goes to work upon him. The fascination of the abomination--you know, imagine the growing regrets, the longing to escape, the powerless disgust, the surrender, the hate.'

He paused.

'Mind,' he began again, lifting one arm from the elbow, the palm of the hand outwards, so that, with his legs folded before him, he had the pose of a Buddha preaching in European clothes and without a lotus-flower--'Mind, none of us would feel exactly like this. What saves us is efficiency--the devotion to efficiency. But these chaps were not much account, really. They were no colonists; their administration was merely a squeeze, and nothing more, I suspect. They were conquerors, and for that you want only brute force--nothing to boast of, when you have it, since your strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of others. They grabbed what they could get for the sake of what was to be got. It was just robbery with violence, aggravated murder on a great scale, and men going at it blind'as is very proper for those who tackle a darkness. The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much. What redeems it is the idea only. An idea at the back of it; not a sentimental pretence but an idea; and an unselfish belief in the idea--something you can set up, and bow down before, and offer a sacrifice to . . .'

He broke off. Flames glided in the river, small green flames, red flames, white flames, pursuing, overtaking, joining, crossing each other--then separating slowly or hastily. The traffic of the great city went on in the deepening night upon the sleepless river. We looked on, waiting patiently--there was nothing else to do till the end of the flood; but it was only after a long silence, when he said, in a hesitating voice, 'I suppose you fellows remember I did once turn fresh-water sailor for a bit,' that we knew we were fated, before the ebb began to run, to hear about one of Marlow's inconclusive experiences.

'I don't want to bother you much with what happened to me personally,' he began, showing in this remark the weakness of many tellers of tales who seem so often unaware of what their audience would best like to hear; 'yet to understand the effect of it on me you ought to know how I got out there, what I saw, how I went up that river to the place where I first met the poor chap. It was the farthest point of navigation and the culminating point of my experience. It seemed somehow to throw a kind of light on everything about me--and into my thoughts. It was sombre enough, too--and pitiful--not extraordinary in any way--not very clear either. No, not very clear. And yet it seemed to throw a kind of light.

'I had then, as you remember, just returned to London after a lot of Indian Ocean, Pacific, China Seas--a regular dose of the East--six years or so, and I was loafing about, hindering you fellows in your work and invading your homes, just as though I had got a heavenly mission to civilize you. It was very fine for a time, but after a bit I did get tired of resting. Then I began to look for a ship--I should think the hardest work on earth. But the ships wouldn't even look at me. And I got tired of that game, too.

'Now when I was a little chap I had a passion for maps. I would look for hours at South America, or Africa, or Australia, and lose myself in all the glories of exploration. At that time there were many blank spaces on the earth, and when I saw one that looked particularly inviting on a map (but they all look that) I would put my finger on it and say, When I grow up I will go there. The North Pole was one of these places, I remember. Well, I haven't been there yet, and shall not try now. The glamour's off. Other places were scattered about the Equator, and in every sort of latitude all over the two hemispheres. I have been in some of them, and . . . well, we won't talk about that. But there was one yet--the biggest, the most blank, so to speak--that I had a hankering after.

'True, by this time it was not a blank space any more. It had got filled since my boyhood with rivers and lakes and names. It had ceased to be a blank space of delightful mystery--a white patch for a boy to dream gloriously over. It had become a place of darkness. But there was in it one river especially, a mighty big river, that you could see on the map, resembling an immense snake uncoiled, with its head in the sea, its body at rest curving afar over a vast country, and its tail lost in the depths of the land. And as I looked at the map of it in a shop-window, it fascinated me as a snake would a bird--a silly little bird. Then I remembered there was a big concern, a Company for trade on that river. Dash it all! I thought to myself, they can't trade without using some kind of craft on that lot of fresh water--steamboats! Why shouldn't I try to get charge of one? I went on along Fleet Street, but could not shake off the idea. The snake had charmed me.

Table of Contents

With an Introduction by Caryl Phillips and commentary by H.L. Mencken, E.M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, Ernest Hemingway, Bertrand Russell, Lionel Trilling, Chiua Achebe, and Philip Gourevitch

Heart of Darkness, which appeared at the very beginning of our century, was a Cassandra cry announcing the end of Victorian Europe, on the verge of transforming itself into the Europe of violence," wrote the critic Czeslaw Milosz.

Originally published in 1902, Heart of Darkness remains one of this century's most enduring--and harrowing--works of fiction. Written several years after Conrad's grueling sojourn in the Belgian Congo, the novel tells the story of Marlow, a seaman who undertakes his own journey into the African jungle to find the tormented white trader Kurtz. Rich in irony and spellbinding prose, Heart of Darkness is a complex meditation on colonialism, evil, and the thin line between civilization and barbarity.

This edition contains selections from Conrad's Congo Diary of 1890--the first notes, in effect, for the novel which was composed at the end of that decade. Virginia Woolf wrote of Conrad, "His books are full of moments of vision. They light up a whole character in a flash. . . . He could not write badly, one feels, to save his life."

What People are Saying About This

Joyce Carol Oates

One of the great, if troubling, visionary works of Western civilization.

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Heart of Darkness 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 239 reviews.
125454984615984 More than 1 year ago
The Book Heart of Darkness was a very well thought out story. I would not have understood any of the book without someone to guide me through, but when someone guided me then it made sense to me. I would not recommend this book to anyone in high school or even college unless you have someone who has experience and can explain the book to you. There is a crew on a ship called the Nellie Waiting for the tide of the Thames River to push them out to sea. One of the crew members names is Marlow, and he is telling a story about his experience in Africa. The reason this book was confusing to me is beacuse there are two stories being told at the same time. This book changed the way I read books beacuse it makes you pay attention to every littkle detail in books and it takes you to another level.
mondrey_michelle More than 1 year ago
I thought that Heart of Darkness was an exceptional book that tells a story about the author’s trip to Africa. I was not sure if I was going to like it or not, until I was half way through the book, because Conrad does a lot of describing and it was a little hard to understand at first. The detail in the book is a key element because it paints a vivid picture for the reader. If reading this book I think that you should go paragraph by paragraph to analyze everything. This book has a touching ending that makes you really think about life. In the beginning of the book Conrad gives a unique perspective by making the narrator of the story the reader. As he wrote it he made a Russian doll effect, by making the reader tell the story to Marlow on a boat and of the story of Marlow’s trip to Africa. I didn’t like how Conrad jumped back between the atmosphere on the boat and what happened in the narration. I think it was hard in the beginning to tell which one was which. In order for Conrad to tell this chronicle in only seventy seven pages and pack a trip that took him a couple months, he had to make some fragment sentences. I think this was necessary but I didn’t like it. The beginning of the book was hard to get through because of the intense detail and futility. When it got closer to the end it was very intriguing and suspenseful. When I first started reading the book I predicted that the sea and the city London would have a big role in the upcoming events. Conrad describes it as a magnificent object that the crew looks up to. Conrad also describes London as a dark gloomy place and I thought that later in the story the “darkness” that they have left behind and the “heart” is the sea of the men’s travels. This was not exactly true but I think there are many “Heart’s of Darkness’” but the main one is the forest being the darkness and how it took over Kurtz’s heart. Overall this was a great story that everyone should read in there lifetime.
DaniM More than 1 year ago
My advanced high school English course read Heart of Darkness this school year. At first look, the book appeared to be dull and uninteresting. After learning about Joseph Conrad's life as a seaman, I couldn't expect any less than a book about a seaman's adventure. Needless to say I was wrong about my first assumption. Old as it may be, this enlightening story is far from tedious. As we began reading the book, we started with some background notes. We made predictions and all I could draw from the book at that point was that it would be about an adventure at sea. We also questioned why Conrad used a quote from Rumplestiltskin as an epigram at its beginning. I figured out after reading it that he put it there to set the moral of the story; a human life is worth more than all the riches in the world. The story is set with Marlow, the main character, on the boat. He is talking about his adventure to meet the incomparable Mr. Kurtz, to his other shipmates and us the readers. The things he saw and the people he met filled this lively journey in to the heart of darkness. That being said, my one prediction was definitely being met while reading this book. As Marlow, the main character's, story unraveled paragraph by paragraph I started to understand what mental torture he was going through. It's a story you have to read slowly to get every single clue. Every part of the puzzle is crucial to understand this particular work of literature. I must say that it made an impact on me. It sharpened my reading comprehension skills and made other books much simpler in comparison. I know for sure that I will remember it, as I get older. I would most certainly recommend this book to anyone looking for a complex book to challenge them, and the movie as a companion.
westermantyler1 More than 1 year ago
A great novel needs to take a toll on the reader. Works of darkness, oppression, and horror of this sort can easily become kitch and misuse the emotive pathos of wretched acts. This one stays plenty cohesive and focused. Conrad expertly reflects on the core of evil and plight. His expression of sin relentlessly strikes the reader with pain and embarrassment in one's species; in one's world. The quest for Kurtz parallels Conrad's descent into the heart of the matter as he gets closer to his ultimate revelation about the utter power of evil, or horror, of darkness. We find it is beyond humanity, it seethes from the maw of nature. If these themes seem relevant or intriguing to you, I recommend this powerful accomplishment of a novel.
Bigawilli More than 1 year ago
Heart of Darkness, written by Joseph Conrad, was originally published in 1899. This book is a mystery where the captain of a steamboat, Marlow, needs to find the rapidly deteriorating Kurtz who has delved deep into the center of the ivory trade. Marlow captains his steamboat up the Congo River in the late nineteenth century encountering new experiences as he goes along on his journey to find the Kurtz who at this time he idolizes. The story progresses quickly, as it is a novella, but because of this it can also be difficult to understand. Though it does progress quickly it does follow through without detours. In the novel the characters also change in their own ways. Marlow, who is also the narrator, changes his viewpoints and ideas of the world. Meanwhile Kurtz has been dwelling in the jungle and has changed everything to a complete opposite of what he was before. The jungle has almost reverted him to a more primitive human having a "heart of darkness" from the evil dealings in which he has partaken. The novella follows through these changes and helps a reader understand the plight of people turning to vices during this period when there is no structure. As the narrator is a captain, the novella is written in an English maritime style of writing using diction of the seas. The novel contains many nautical terms, which may confuse some readers but with patience they could be understood. This diction helps set the mood of being on a ship and helps the reader come close to living the story. I think most high school students would be able to read this book, although more reluctant readers will have a little more trouble wading through the diction and following the story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a wonderful story. However, this edition of the book on my nook is terrible. There are misspellings and improper punctuation that are not in the original paper edition(s). Definitely not for a student who needs to quote passages.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book itself is a wonderful read, however, this paperback version is hard to read with its irregular print and there are also no page numbers on the book which makes it very hard to read in class, being the reason I bought this book. Because this is a print-on-demand book, I was not able to return it to a local store and online (said by the sales representative) which makes me very frustrated. Overall this book is cheap and because the story is good, I recommend people reading it though if there's another purpose for reading this book besides personal enjoyment, I would highly recommend buying another version of this novel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An amazing book! If you've read it, read it again. If not, read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written, keeps you interested. The prose reeks of darkness. ~*~LEB~*~
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TRFeller More than 1 year ago
I first read this book for my freshman college English class and had to write a paper on it. At the time, it was the most challenging work of fiction that I had ever read. A few years ago, I re-read it for my Great Books discussion group, and it was a much more satisfying experience as my reading skills had greatly improved. Nor did I find the implicit racism as offensive as I did then, because I have read much worse since and for 1899, the year of its publication, it was not that bad. Then I recently re-read the book again for another book group. It is still a challenging read, but now I could study how Conrad, for whom English was a second language, put words together. It is almost as if each sentence is a story in itself. On the other hand, I now find that famous quote, “The horror! The horror!” to be rather ludicrous.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The novel Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad, paints the picture of not only an adventure throughout the African continent; it also depicts inevitable corruption established from fraudulent, tyrannical authority. Through carefully selected diction, the story succeeds in explaining the essence of the exploration through the Congo while contributing to overall deeper meanings, themes, and other various instances of symbolism. Although written over a century ago, the story is undoubtedly one to read for both entertainment and profound significance. The wonderfully implemented use of symbolism in the novel is easily one of the more enjoyable aspects of the story. For example, Kurtz, a character with a respectable reputation, who is worshiped like a god in front of his African tribal followers, is initially rumored to be a remarkable leader who possesses a plentiful amount of ivory, while appearing to symbolize civilization and liberty for his home country of Belgium. However, upon further notice, this turns out to be false in that Kurtz is not the wonderful person that he seemed to be and is more of a tyrant to his people while in pursuit of wealth and power. His image in the story ultimately depicts the “heart of darkness” in that all corruption can be traced back to a single entity. This, arguably more so than any other element in the story, clearly establishes the idea that the novel lives on to this day in that centers of “darkness” do exist (possibly within the best of people) and that some may have vastly altered intentions from what they at first seem. The overall context of the story with its present day relatability presents a substantial reason in itself to read and enjoy the novel and its themes. This novel is particularly well written for a multitude of reasons. With a subtle, but powerful writing style, Conrad ingeniously exposes impactful themes through a brilliantly crafted storyline. The ending will assuredly enlighten the reader with thought provoking ideas and perspectives on society as whole that may not otherwise be generated without this story line and its themes. With that said, this book should be read by everyone as it enlightens the reader in a number of ways from enjoyment to deeper meanings of society, and even history/understanding of colonization in late 19th century Africa. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
tay_landers More than 1 year ago
Conrad’s novel, Heart of Darkness was very interesting. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book, though some parts were very difficult to understand without the help of others. Conrad chose the decision to make the reader the narrator of the story. This decision made it able for the reader to connect to the characters and their journey. Throughout the book, many literary devices were used. For example, symbolism was used in the entire novel. For example, greed and darkness was portrayed as the character, Kurtz. Also, Mother Nature was transformed into and immortal African woman, and the darkness in the book symbolized evil, just as the light symbolized the good. Another major device used was flashback. The majority of the book was a flashback narrated by Marlow, while he was on a ship drifting into darkness. This was confusing at times, because depicting the flashbacks from the main plot was difficult. Overall, Marlow’s journey into the heart of Africa was told in a very unique perspective. This is definitely a book that will make you think, seeing all of the underlined meanings. It was a very intriguing novel through the use of Conrad’s literary elements and the portrayal of good and evil within the characters. The book was a very dense and challenging 72 pages to comprehend. Though it was challenging, I would recommend the book. It’s a brain teaser, but it was definitely worth the confusion, once Conrad’s true intent was shown through the characters and literary elements used.
EmmaPress More than 1 year ago
Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, is a novel about a man, Marlow, and his journey to the “heart of darkness.” In the novel, Marlow’s sanity is put to the test as he travels down the Congo River to the inner station where he is to find a man by the name of Kurtz. Before Marlow’s journey begins he must travel to Africa to receive his steamboat. Upon arriving in Africa, he finds that his boat is leaking and he must wait to begin his journey until it gets fixed. This is one of the many tests to Marlow’s sanity found as the novel progresses. Conrad uses various rhetorical devices throughout the novel to assist the reader in discovering the hidden meaning in the novel. In Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad, rhetorical devices such as imagery and symbolism are used to help the reader better understand the journey Marlow is faced with and his struggle to stay sane along the way.    A writer uses imagery when he/she wants to paint a certain picture in the reader’s head. In Heart of Darkness, Conrad uses imagery in various different ways. For example, in chapter one Marlow describes the terrible state of the natives who have been enslaved and left to die. "Near the same tree two more bundles of acute angles sat with their legs drawn up. One, with his chin propped on his knees, stared at nothing, in an intolerable and appalling manner: his brother phantom rested its forehead, as if overcome with a great weariness…” (page 14). Conrad uses language such as this to evoke emotion from the reader while he paints a vivid picture of the state of the natives. Another example of imagery occurs when Marlow describes the situation in which the natives are shooting them at. “Sticks, little sticks, were flying about – thick: they were whizzing before my nose, dropping below me, striking behind me against my pilot-house… Arrows, by Jove! We are being shot at!” (pg 40). With this example of imagery, Conrad creates suspense. He allows the reader time to think before he explains what is happening to make he/she want to continue reading. Imagery can be found quite often throughout the novel and like these two situation, can evoke emotion from the reader causing he/she to read further into the novel.  In Heart of Darkness, Conrad uses symbolism to represent the dark and the light. In the novel, Conrad uses Kurtz to symbolize the dark and the African woman to symbolize the light.  After Kurtz boards the steamboat to leave the heart of darkness the African women appears beside the ship. She stares at the men for a few minutes and then commits a gesture. "Suddenly she opened her bared arms and threw them up rigid above her head, as though in an uncontrollable desire to touch the sky, and at the same time the swift shadows darted out on the earth, swept around on the river, gathering the steamer into a shadowy embrace. A formidable silence hung over the scene" (pg 56). This gesture affirms that the African woman is an extension of the wilderness and a symbol for all that is good in the world, the light. In comparison, when Kurtz’s says his last words “The horror, the horror,” it becomes clear that he symbolizes the darkness. In his final moments before death, Kurtz realizes all the bad he has done in his lifetime. He was an imperialist and conquered African land “to spread religion,” but while fulfilling this goal he enslaved the natives and stole ivory. Conrad uses symbolism in his novel to compare the good and evil in the world.  I recommend that all high school students read this novel. Although it can be a tough read, I believe that it is very beneficial to a high schooler’s learning experience. The way that Conrad uses rhetorical devices helped me to better understand why authors use rhetorical devices and what they mean to the storyline. I don’t think that this novel should be assigned to students to read on their own. I think that it is more beneficial to a student’s learning, although it might take more time, if this particular novel is read in class, with the teacher, and discussed so that the student can gain as much knowledge as possible. After reading this novel, I feel that I have a better grasp on how to read deeper into a novel as opposed to just reading on the surface. 
stephanie-mayle More than 1 year ago
The scope of classic literature can be a very difficult world to explore.  Around every corner is a rhetorical device, behind every tree is symbolism, and each step reveals a new dimension to the plot line.  It is easy to get lost, to confuse yourself in the words and overlook the true meaning behind them.  Classic literature can be intimidating, and the novel, Heart of Darkness, is that tenfold. Joseph Conrad’s best-selling novel encompasses almost every rhetorical element that can be imagined.  Metaphor is one that stands out particularly well.  As noted before, the mark of a great piece of literature often is the use of symbolism in objects, characters, settings, etc.  It is in this that Conrad excels above all others.  He personalizes Mother Nature into an immortal African woman, the evil into the dark, good into the light, and the greed of human nature into the character of Kurtz.  These extended metaphors throughout the novel add a whole new analytical level to the story.  The book is transformed from one man’s African journey to a war between good and evil, and a mystery of who is on who’s side. Conrad also very obviously, and at the same time very subtly, uses flashback.  The majority of the book is a whole flashback narrated by Marlow while on a boat with some friends waiting for the tide to change.  Through this extended monologue, the reader can often forget that there is a plot on the outside of the main plot.  This is yet another example of Conrad’s genius.  By modeling his novel after a matryoshka doll, with each story fitting into another, he adds to the overall complexity of the book and creates a plot unparalleled by any others. Juxtaposition is also often referred to throughout Conrad’s novel.  His adjectives often oppose each other--light and dark, innocent and guilty, hidden and obvious--and create a clash of ideals that promote the reader to critically think.  By doing this, Conrad adds to his story of a world torn between two sides, and the struggles humanity faces because of it.  Each contrast allows the strength of the word to be multiplied, and adds to the depth of the plot as a whole. Overall, reading Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is a decision one won’t regret.  His words shape the English language into phrases that mean nothing and everything simultaneously, and allow a reader to truly create their own interpretations.  I highly recommend this novel to anyone willing to further their own literary consciousness and who appreciates the transformation of simple letters from words into meanings.  As Conrad says, “that which makes its truth, its meaning--its subtle and penetrating essence.”
Josh_Biggs More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Conrad’s decision to include the reader as a character listening to Marlow’s story first hand was a bold and smart move. Through this decision, Conrad really brought the reader into the story which made it a more enjoyable experience. Conrad’s random switch from present to past time (vice versa) throughout the book was also a unique attribute. Although it could be a bit difficult to fully follow, this helped the reader become more involved in the story, where they were actually sitting there listening to Marlow tell of his adventurous journey into the heart of Africa. Conrad’s use of symbolism to symbolize Kurtz as being the darkness was a brilliant literary move. With using a character, Kurtz, who is at first not well known but further explained and identified as Marlow moves through the congo really captures the essence of the darkness, otherwise known as imperialism and the conquering of Africa for wealth. Conrad implements an unphased and harsh tone towards the horrors and thoughts Marlow faced/overcame, for example towards the beginning of the book Marlow discusses the Eldorado Expedition for gold. Here he explains what happened to the majority of the animals that died but he doesn’t know what happened to the ¨less valuable¨ animals. These ¨less valuable¨ animals turn out to be human beings. This is a very stark and harsh tone, especially because it is also being told of from a sailor, like those on the Eldorado Expedition.  I recommend that all students read this book when they get the chance, especially if you are in an AP or upper level class. However, the book is very dense in content and it is difficult to understand everything going on. One should stop frequently throughout the book and make sure they understand and comprehend what is going on. If this is being done for a project, the movie with same title does not depict the story as Conrad would have wanted it to be done. With a lacking central theme and distinct alterations to the plot, I would not recommend watching the movie, especially before reading the book! In conclusion, Conrad’s Heart of Darkness was a very entertaining book with many rhetorical and literary devices that help the reader drastically improve their reading skills. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im still here wqere is new camp for when i come back
WalterEthanGooch More than 1 year ago
During his life Joseph Conrad escaped political persecution in his home country of Ukraine. He then began a sailing career in France, after that he learned English and gained British citizenship in 1886. Even though Conrad was from the Ukraine he is known as one of the greatest English writers.  When Joseph Conrad moved to Brittan he became the Master Mariner and took a voyage to the Congo. One thing I loved about “Heart of Darkness” was the many rhetorical devices Conrad used to paint a picture in the reader’s eyes. The one device that as the most present was metaphor. The entire book was one giant mega-metaphor comparing the “Heart of Darkness” to the evil within Kurtz. When Marlow reaches the inner station where Kurtz was he found that Kurtz had been killing the natives for their ivory. This is the evil from him which Marlow compares to the “Heart of Darkness”. I loved this aspect of the book and how the whole book ties back into itself.  Another reason I liked “Heart of Darkness” was because once you could understand what the words of the book actually meant, you could pick up on implied or hidden things between the lines. For example, when Marlow reaches the inner station he finds the Russian harlequin waiting for them and as he speaks you can pick up that he is almost in love with Kurtz, because he won’t say anything bad about him. Another example is when Marlow and the brick maker talk Marlow accuses him of being a spy for the manager without actually saying it.  In general this book is very well written and has countless rhetorical devices hidden away in it. I think this is a great book to read and to analyze. Reading it will defiantly make you read between the lines, and pick up on things you otherwise would not have. I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone looking for an interesting and challenging read.
Kristenyeager More than 1 year ago
Attention All AP English Students: Heart of Darkness was overall a very challenging book to read, comprehend, and analyze, so for all of those high school students looking for a short novel to read for a book report;  you probably don’t want to pick this book. Even though this book was a shy 72 pages, those 72 pages made me think harder than any other book I have ever picked up (other  than my math textbook).  Just to put things in perspective; it took my class a span of 45 minutes just to read and analyze the first two pages. It took 45 minutes to read 2 pages!  As my class and I read about Marlow’s adventure and the challenges he and his crew had faced as they traveled up the Congo River in efforts to reach Mr. Kurtz, the faster and easier it got for me to analyze what Joseph Conrad was trying to explain. This book had widen my eyes and made me notice literal devices without trying to look for them. I would open a page and right away I would spot out allusions to the bible, the use of personification, similes, irony, symbolism and the list could go on and on. I am positive that through reading this book I have strengthen my capability of analyzing what I am reading.  After watching the movie and reading the book I would definitely recommend reading the book first because it will make you, the reader create your own image of what Conrad is creating. While in the movie, the director creates an image of what he interpreted from Conrad rather than giving the viewer their own freedom of imagination like how the book does for the reader.
HHSSoccer28 More than 1 year ago
“Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad is one of the best books for people seeking to further their skills in reading and truly understanding what you read. “Heart of Darkness” is full of underlying messages that once uncovered unveil a deeper meaning to the story and to the  characters. These messages can be easily found by reading between the lines and understanding some of the rhetorical devices used  by Mr. Conrad. One of the most significant differences between the book and the movie is that the book puts you there with Marlow and  the crew, the movie however is just a movie and a movie cannot convey the true deeper meaning due to fewer details, misinterpretations  from the author to the director and a lack of information conveyed through only words. One of if not the most interesting effects Conrad put into his work is the Russian doll effect, a doll inside of a doll inside of a doll and so on. This effect exercises the mind and adds an incredible depth to the story. Conrad uses many rhetorical and literary elements in his writing, his mastery of these elements of which  he uses to set the book entirely above the movie are some of the most important reasons as to why the book should be read. One of the  elements used is imagery, an example of this is, “She was a savage and superb, wide-eyed and magnificent; there was something  ominous and stately...her face had a tragic and fierce aspect of wild sorrow and of dumb pain mingled with the fear of some  struggling" (pg56). “When the mistress lifts her arms above her head "swift shadows darted out on the earth, swept around on the  river, gathering the steamer into a shadowy embrace"(pg56). Conrad describes this mistress as he describes the jungle both mysterious  and full of power. I personally recommend that people read the book first but with great caution, this book needs to be read slowly enough that you can  read between the lines in order to understand what is really happening in the story but not so slow that you get bored with it. This book  is a must read for people who seek to advance their skills in understanding what you read. The movie can be watched but only after the book is read because of the lack of details and deeper meaning in the movie. 
Evannoeld More than 1 year ago
If you are looking for a light, casual read, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness may not be the publication for you. However, if an expansion of the mind is what you desire, you should be strongly inclined to give it a whirl. Unlike other examples of early 1900’s literature, from this story one is able to gather not only an intellectual gain; an improvement, by necessity of understanding, in one’s ability to read and comprehend complex and foreign syntax, but also great enjoyment in a story line which attracts an adventurous curiosity from any readers inner childhood Columbus. In addition to reading comprehension, one may gather a deeper knowledge of working use of dozens of rhetorical elements, a skill I am much appreciative of as a future college attendee. Among my favorite of the rhetoric infused by Conrad was his cynical sarcasm, used more than once to point out the hypocrisy and evils of the European ivory workers/imperialists; an example would be Marlow’s calling of the European task noble after witnessing a chain gang. Another facet of interpretation interestingly taken from the book would two of the novels strongest motifs: insanity and futility. Part of the enjoyment I personally had with the book was noticing all the times these two motifs came up and being able to relate such things to the imperialism of many other countries/continents. Lastly, ironically the only thing you came to the review section to read, is my overall recommendation. Well, yes, I would highly recommend this book. Perhaps, although, if you would not consider yourself an advanced reader, it may be helpful to purchase an expanded version which includes a bit of explanation and help in pointing out the subtleties that bring this book, despite it having been written and set a world away, into personal significance. Another option would also be to update yourself while reading with help from sites such as spark notes. Valuable and entertaining read shared with me by my most respected and knowledgeable teacher.