Heart of Darkness Questions

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In the beginning of the novel, Marlowr’s comparison of the barbarian darkness on the northern fringes of the Roman Empire and the Belgian Congo, the dark heart of Africa, are examples of foreshadowing. Towards the beginning, Marlow is imagining what it must have been like for a Roman conqueror to travel through the jungle and all of the obstacles and hardships that wouldve been put in his way. Harsh weather, disease, and death being only a few of what hed be forced to deal with.

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The idea of the Roman having a fascination of abomination , or an allure to evil, later shows itself in Kurtz after such a long amount of time in the Congo. An example of irony would be the consistent depiction of Africa as a dark and gloomy place, while in reality the Europeans are responsible for starting violence and the natives only start to contribute when they feel the need to fight back.

The three main characters – Marlow, Kurtz, and the Intended – represent distinct point of views on the nature of the world and the meaning of life. Kurtz had fallen victim to the power of the jungle, and while he was the most open minded and optimistic, he became the most dark and evil. He was able to follow through with his dream and work to create a civilized Africa, however, through time, his surroundings molded him into a barbarian himself. As his life is nearing its end, Kurtz becomes hopeless as he reflects back on his own experiences, shown when he exclaims, The horror! The horror!. Marlow acts as the middle ground. While he is somewhat affected by the darkness of the Congo, he tries to not let it get the best of him. While Marlow is excited to go on his adventure and to meet Kurtz, he keeps in mind the dangers that may come with it and how it may affect him negatively. The Intended represents purity and has the most positive outlook on life. She doesnt have the same experiences as Marlow and Kurtz, which keeps her positive and unaware of the danger and negativity in life. They are mutually exclusive in that even though Marlow is trying to avoid the darkness, he wants to get closer to Kurtz. And while the Intended is pure and light, she holds Kurtz, the most evil of the three, on a high pedestal.

The jungle changes both Marlow and Kurtz internally, as suggested by the doctor during Marlowr’s examination. While Marlow was very eager to travel to the Congo, the journey makes him aware of the heart of darkness in humanity. His travels show him that everyone has an innate sense to do wrong, some will ignore this while others will act on it and do evil.

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