Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad – PDF Summary

Heart-of-Darkness-www.pdfland.usHeart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Heart of Darkness was published by famous novelist Joseph Conrad in 1899. The captain of a ship, Marlow, is a skilled navigator, whom the crew trusts. On board, they have an accountant and a lawyer. The captain secured the anchor and watched the sunset. Marlow begins to tell a story.

First, he talks about the famous Knights and boats that have traveled the Thames. Few of these boats are the Golden Hind, Erebus, and Terror. Then the story moves on to Marlowe’s early life. He explains that the darkness of a map has always fascinated him. Marlow wonders if the Romans that occupied Britain 1900 years ago felt like he did in his exploration of Africa. He realizes the Romans must have considered Britain a dark and savage place. Yet, he figures that he is far superior compared to the savage Romans.

They pillaged mindlessly, he figures. While the Britons specialty is efficiency. Then, he tells us of his explorations. He recalls looking at some blank spaces at a map, and his desire to explore there. He got a captain’s position on a boat after one died in a scuffle with natives. Marlow retrieved the captain’s remains for burial then headed to London. The fact that the entire village had dispersed amazed him.

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At the company’s headquarters, he signed a contract. Then he boarded a French steamer to Africa. He takes the smaller steamer to an outpost, then travels on foot. On his way, he passes a chain gang of slaves. He also sees a group of starving natives and gives one a biscuit. Then, he sees chief accountant of company who works out of this station. Marlow notes the stream of factory-made goods flowing into this land, & trickle of the ivory flowing out.

He waited at the station for 10 days. From the accountant, he learned about Mr. Kurtz. Mr. Kurtz basically was in-charge of the utmost important Trading Post they had. The accountant has a dying man in his office. The accountant tried to make journal entries, and he says the groans don’t help. Marlow travels for another 15 days and finally reaches the station on the Nile river where he is to pick-up his boat.

Unfortunately, it has sunk. Moreover, no one looks particularly worried about it. The disregard for life and suffering is a continual theme of this book. Marlow meets the manager of this station, who is very weird guy through his utter averageness. Then they both learned that the important station is in trouble. The station Marlow is at needs to send assistance immediately. The manager wants to know how long before Marlow can set out.

Marlow has no idea as he hasn’t even seen the damage to the ship yet. The manager gives him three months to get the wrecked ship repaired and ready to go. Marlow made try to repair his damaged ship, but he needed rivets. During his repairs, he found that he adored finding himself through his work. The manager of the station that Marlow is at receives a visitor. He is actually the manager’s uncle and leads a band of evil mercenaries.

One evening Marlow is lying down on the ship when the manager and his uncle passed by under him. They are conspiring against one of Kurtz’s men. Later, Marlow sets off on his trip towards the “Center of Africa” via the Congo River”. One of Marlow’s biggest fears on his expedition is hearing the steamboat scraped the bottom of river or hit a root. His next biggest fear is traveling into the Heart of Darkness. This is the darkness of the unmapped Congo River, at “Heart of Africa”.

During his Congo River voyage, he comes to terms that these “Savages” are still human. This is in spite of the vast environmental contrast he sees here versus in his native Europe. Then, he finds a mass of wood addressed to him with a warning for them to “Hurry Up” and “Approach Cautiously”. They are within eight miles but decide to wait for daylight to make their final approach. Then, they find themselves in dense fog and are unable to move. They go down a narrow waterway & come under attack by arrows.

The natives kill the helmsman with arrows, and Marlow suspects Kurtz must be gone or dead at this point. Then, they find one of Kurtz’s men who is a Russian. He says that he met Kurtz when he had piece of the ivory that Kurtz wanted. Kurtz warned to kill him, so he gave it up. From then on, he has become a disciple of Kurt’s and tended to his sickness. The Russian tells Marlow that Kurtz has assembled an army of native villagers. He goes on for saying that Kurtz might be mad, as he decorated his station with heads.

The manager from Marlow’s previous station says Kurtz methods have ruined this district. Yet, the manager admits there is the remarkable amount of ivory at Kurtz’s station. We learned that Kurtz ordered to attack the steamer as he didn’t want them to take him away. Kurtz returns towards his station but then make efforts to escape in the night. Marlow brings him back to camp and they set-off the next morning.

On their journey back up the river, the ship breaks down. Kurtz gives Marlow his private papers since he has faith in the manager is treacherous. Then, Kurtz dies. After Kurtz’s funeral, a man from the company demands the papers. Marlow gives him few of them but refuses to hand over the rest as he suggests they are not important to company. Then he meets with the woman that Kurtz wanted to marry. She asks what Kurtz final words were. Marlow lies and says that it was her name. Instead, final words of Kurtz were “The Horror! The Horror” after thinking about the disintegration of all his thoughts, ideas, dreams, and aspirations.

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