Review: Heart of Darkness

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The novel opens with the Nellie, a small ship, dropping an anchor in the Thames River. This unnamed narrator names the men on board the ship, the Director of Companies, the Lawyer, the Accountant, and Charles Marlow. The unnamed narrator thinks about the long history of British exploration and conquest with fondness as he looks over the river. After two or three small paragraphs the point of view shifts to Marlow, who becomes the main narrator of the rest of the novel. He observes to several friends that this land was once a place of darkness, an uncivilized wilderness. This reflection leads him to remember an incident in his past, when he commanded a steamboat on the Congo River. Marlow explains to his shipmates that he is thinking of the Roman times, when the "civilized world" was discovering the mysterious and unsettled British Isles, similar to how the British are now discovering and settling the unexplored areas of the world. Thinking from the point of view of a Roman commander, Marlow explains the feelings of trying to conquer a foreign wilderness. After a pause, he recounts his journey into Africa as an agent for the Company, an ivory trading firm. Along the way, he witnesses brutality and hate between colonizers and the native African people. When Marlow arrives in Africa, he finds mass destruction of the earth, the people, and even the machinery. He sees what seems like senseless work and senseless dying on the part of the Africans. He finds the Europeans to be oblivious to the immorality of what they are doing. He began hearing of Kurtz as soon as he arrived, and everything he heard--of Kurtz's expressiveness, of his high moral principles, of his effectiveness, of his influence in the Company--aroused Marlow's interest. Marlow begins to idealize Kurtz.

Marlow together with the Manager and other Company officials travel to Congo River toward the Inner Station, where Kurtz lives, to find out what had happened to Kurtz. The journey is difficult. Marlow...
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