Heart of Darkness

Conrad's Africa; A Key to Heart of Darkness

In his novel, Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad comments on man's capacity for evil. Through this tale of European imperialism, Conrad takes the reader from the streets of London to the jungles of Africa, contrasting the civilized, outer world and the dark, inner frontier. While being somewhat autobiographical, the story is related to the reader by a seaman, who collects the tale from one of his fellows on a ship as they sale away from London. The first-hand experience is that of Charlie Marlow, who is inspired to tell his story by the London skyline, as he describes it as "also... one of the dark places of the earth," (p. 67). The other dark place that Marlow is referring to is the African jungle. For several pages, Marlow tells his fellows about the inner jungle as he and his steamboat entered it (105-8). These pages set the mood of the jungle sequences, provide Marlow with the adventure and the answers that he has been pursuing, suggesting some major themes of the novel.

The journey into the jungle describes the dark, mysterious, and isolated setting in which the reader will meet Kurtz. Through descriptions of "rioting vegetation," and "implacable, vengeful silence" (106), the reader begins to...

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