Essay Summary of Heart of Darkness

Last Updated: 20 Apr 2022
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“This too was once one of the dark places of the earth. ” This quote was spoken by Marlow. The quote signifies the beginning of Marlow’s story, and the pretense to his vivid recollection of his journey. Marlow is referring to his current surroundings because he is about to start his lengthy allegory. Basically, Marlow begins by telling the other sailors that every place was at one point unexplored and uninhabited.

“We live in the flicker…may it last as long as the old earth keeps rolling. ” This quote was spoken by Marlow. The “flicker” that Marlow mentions refers to the “light of imperialism” and the development of new land.

Marlow continuously uses the contrast of light and dark to represent the condition of the land and the people. The light is the beneficial aspect of growth and Marlow hopes that these benefits will outweigh their negative counterparts as long as imperialism exists and continues.

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“They were men enough to face the darkness. ” This quote was spoken by Marlow. In this quote, Marlow is referring to the imperialist men who adventured into unknown lands to conquer and develop. He describes how brave and ambitious these men were and how they knew the risks yet took them despite all costs.

Marlow even describes the motivating factors that pushed imperialists forward- such as the money and the recognition. “Imagine the growing regrets, the longing to escape, the powerless disgust, the surrender, the hate…. ” This quote was spoken by Marlow. After his rant about how valiant the imperialist explorers were, Marlow then describes how the imperialists are the ones negatively affected by their exploration because they are forced into dark and destitute places. They wish to return to their homes but they serve a great duty by exploring and developing these new places.

Marlow acknowledges this desire to “escape” because he felt it multiple times firsthand when he thrust himself in the midst of a mentally and physically challenging jungle. “Du calme, du calme, adieu. ” The person who spoke this quote was the doctor. When Marlow includes this quote in his story, he also adds a little bit of information which conveys the doctor’s warning tone. The doctor tells Marlow to keep calm on his trip and basically to stay level headed throughout the endeavor. Marlow, of course, does not head this advice, so the quote is almost ironic in a way. I have seen…strong, lusty, red-eyed devils but…I foresaw that in the blinding      sunshine of this land, I would become acquainted with a flabby, pretending, weak-       eyed devil of rapacious and pitiless folly. ” Pg. 71 “I’ve been teaching one of the native women about the station. It was difficult. She       had a distaste for the work. ” Pg. 73“When one has hot to make correct entries, one comes to hate those savages-hate       them to the death. ” Pg. 75 “He was obeyed, yet he inspired neither love, nor fear, nor even respect…he inspired         uneasiness. ” Pg. 78 “The word ‘ivory’ hung in the air.

You would think they were praying to it. ” Pg. 80 “He is a prodigy…We want for the guidance of the cause entrusted us by Europe, so        to speak higher intelligence, wide sympathies, singleness of purpose. ” Pg. 83  “You know, I hate, detest, can’t bear a lie. ” Pg. 85 It was reckless without hardihood, greedy without audacity, and cruel without        courage; there was not an atom of foresight or of serious intention among them. ” Pg. 90.

Heart of Darkness questions: Book 1 Answer the following questions using clear and complete sentences.

  1. Describe the setting and the mood at the beginning of the novel. . Describe how Marlow differs from the other men aboard the Nellie.
  2. How does the narrator predict that the other men will react to Marlow’s story?
  3. Discuss how the Romans would have described England before it had become     civilized.
  4. According to Marlow, what redeems “the conquest of the earth”?
  5. How does Marlow describe the Congo river? Why is this an interesting comparison? 7. What do the women in the company office symbolize?
  6. Why did Fresleven go insane? How did he die?
  7. Marlow’s aunt calls her nephew an “emissary of light. ” What does she imagine her he nephew will do in the Congo?

Describe the folly in the outer station.

  1. Describe the accountant. Why does Marlow call him a “miracle”?
  2. Describe the station manager in the central station. How does he survive?
  3. Discuss the irony of the brickmaker’s position with the company.
  4. How does Kurtz’s painting connect Marlow and Kurtz?
  5. What does the absence of rivets show about the company?

Discuss Marlow’s tone towards the Eldorado Exploring Expedition. Why does he feel this way?

Heart of Darkness quotes:

Book “Wood for you. Hurry up. Approach cautiously. ” Pg. 99 “I laid the ghost of his gifts at last with a lie. Pg. 114 “You don’t talk with that man-you listen. ” Pg. 122“This man has enlarged my mind. ” Pg. 123

Heart of Darkness questions:

Book 2 How does the station manager survive? What do the drums symbolize? What book does Marlow discover and what does he admire about it? How does the helmsman die? Discuss the significance of Kurtz’s report. How have Kurtz’s ideals changed since his stay at the Central station? Describe the harlequin. What doe he represent?

Heart of Darkness quotes:

Book 3 “He made me see things-things! ” Pg. 124 ‘Because the method is unsound. ” Pg. 33 “Mr. Kurtz’s reputation is safe with me. ” Pg. 135 “Oh, he enlarged my mind. ” Pg. 136 “The horror, the horror. ” Pg. 144 “Mistah Kurtz, he dead. ” Pg. 144 “The last word he said –was your name. ” Pg. 154

Heart of Darkness questions:

Book 3

  1. Discuss the significance of the heads on stakes facing Kurtz’s hut.
  2. Discuss the role of the native woman.
  3. What do Kurtz’s last words mean?
  4. What does Marlow mean when he says that Kurtz “had something to say”?
  5. What conflict does Marlow have when he returns home?
  6. Describe the Intended.
  7. Why does Marlow lie to her at the end?

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Essay Summary of Heart of Darkness. (2017, Jan 17). Retrieved from

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