Heart of Darkness

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Heart of Darkness
By Joseph Conrad
Main Characters

Marlow - Young man who decides that it would be exiting to travel into Africa hunting ivory and does so by taking the place of a dead steamboat captain.

Kurts - Famous man among the ivory seekers who has lived and hunted on the continent for a while and has exploited the savages becoming much like a savage himself.

Russian fool - Man who is known by his clothes with many colorful patches making him look much like a harlequin.  He works with Kurtz who proves to be poor company for him.

The Intended - Kurtzs bride to be who at the end of the book still thinks that Kurtz was the great man that she remembered him to be and Marlow doesnt have the heart to tell her otherwise.

Minor Characters

Helmsman - Man who steers the steamboat but goes away from the wheel to fight the savages only to be killed by an arrow.

Accountant - Accountant who takes care of the money matters for Kurtz and has lived on the continent for three years trying to keep his civilized nature.


Central Station - This is the station where Marlow meets the accountant and observes the way the whites do nothing but exploit the blacks to do pointless labor.

Inner Station - This is the station where Kurtz works and where Marlow finds him being worshipped by the savages.

Thames River - Marlow tells his story to various people here.


Marlow sits at the Thames River in the evening with several other people and begins telling the story about how he entered into the dark continent out of nowhere.  No one wants to listen but he continues anyway.
Marlow expressed a desire to go to Africa to his Aunt who got him a position as a captain of a steamboat of an ivory company.  The previous captain Freslaven died in a scuffle with the natives and Marlow took his place.  A few days later, Marlow travels to Africa and gets to the first station where he meets the accountant who keeps track of the funds in Kurtzs company.  The man is interesting to Marlow since hes been on the continent for three years, yet he keeps himself clean and well dressed.  Marlow finds the blacks being poorly treated and ordered to do meaningless work by the whites.  Marlow continues down the river on his steamboat with a crew of several whites and about 20 to 30 blacks.  As he travels down the river, he comes across this shack where he picks up wood, and a note cautioning him to travel carefully.  He continues down the river and becomes surrounded by savages in the fog.  Marlow is frightened but the savages dont do anything... until the fog rises.  The savages attack and Marlows men fire back.  The arrows of the savages have little effect on Marlows men or his boat.  And the guns of Marlows men have little effect on the savages since they fire too high.  Only Marlows helmsman dies.  Marlow blows the whistle and mysteriously, all the savages retreat in fear.  Marlow shortly reaches the inner station where he is greeted by the Russian Fool who seems to survive in the heart of the continent by not knowing whats going on around him.  Kurtz is very ill and needs to be taken back to England, but he does not want to go.  In fact, he is the one who ordered the attack on the steamboat so that they couldnt take him back to England.  Kurtz is worshipped by the natives and completely exploits them.  Kurtz tries to escape to the natives but Marlow catches him and takes him back to the steamboat head back for England.  While still on the river, Kurtz dies saying, The horror, the horror.  Marlow returns to England.  He visits Kurtzs intended who is still in mourning a year after Kurtzs death.  She still remembers Kurtz as the great man he was before he left, and Marlow doesnt tell her what he had become before he dies.  Marlow gives Kurtz her old letters and leaves.


Shoes - These symbolize civilization and protection.