Schools & Districts
All of Shmoop
Cite This Page
iOS Learning Guide
Kindle: Learning Guide
Kindle: Full Text + Learning Guide
Nook: Learning Guide
Heart of Darkness
Heart of Darkness
Best of the Web
Table of Contents
AP English Language
AP English Literature
SAT Test Prep
ACT Exam Prep
Heart of Darkness Analysis
Literary Devices in Heart of Darkness
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
Contrary to popular usage, light does not necessarily symbolize pure goodness or enlightenment here. Conrad’s vision is so dark that he does not even trust light. Marlow makes the comment tha...
The setting of the frame story in Heart of Darkness just may be the most important setting to discuss in all of great twentieth century literature. (And now that we’ve placed upon ourselves a...
Narrator Point of View
First, our unnamed narrator introduces the frame for the story: the evening spent aboard the Nellie. Only through him do we meet Marlow. Marlow himself tells the framed story so most of the narrati...
The novel has a pessimistic outlook on life. Marlow constantly refers to darkness, madness, and fear. This is probably based on Conrad’s own negative reaction to his voyage up the Congo River...
Conrad’s prose is a difficult animal to wrestle. It seems long-winded and tedious, but is surprisingly poetic. (Check out the iambic meter in the description of Kurtz’s African mistress...
What’s Up With the Title?
With such an ominous title, Heart of Darkness delivers what it promises: ruminations on the nature of evil. The "heart of darkness" refers not only to a physical location (inside Africa), but also...
Charlie Marlow loves maps. He wants to become an explorer so he can fill in those blank spaces on the maps. Upon acquiring a steamboat with the Company, he begins his journey into the African inter...
Booker’s Seven Basic Plots Analysis: Voyage and Return
Pack it up – we’re going to the Congo.Marlow embarks on his journey aboard the steamboat and travels up the Congo River. He remarks that navigating the Congo is like "traveling back to the earl...
Three Act Plot Analysis
Marlow frames his story aboard the Nellie. He describes getting the job in Brussels, then traveling to the Outer and Central Stations. In the first station, he sees laboring black Africans for the...
The prequel of Heart of Darkness is entitled Youth and was published in 1898. (Introduction by Hampson.)Chinua Achebe, Nigerian author of Things Fall Apart, wrote an infamous criticism entitled "An...
Although Heart of Darkness deals with profoundly dark themes, sex is not one of them. This is because the vast majority of the characters are men that travel into the core of Africa with no women a...
The Bible: Matthew 23:27-28 – "a whited sepulchre" (1.22)Moirae (Greek Fates): "two women…knitting black wool" (1.23), "knitting old woman" (3.27)Plato (1.26)Dante: the Divine Comedy ...
© 2013 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved. We love your brain and respect your privacy. |
© 2013 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved. We love your brain and respect your privacy.