Heart of Darkness Study Questions

Heart of Darkness Study Questions


1. Who is the narrator? Under what circumstances did he hear the story he tells?

2. Contrast the narrator’s view of the empire-building English with Marlow’s view of the Romans.

3. Describe how the map of Africa changes during Marlow’s lifetime. What does this change foreshadow?

4. How does Marlow secure a position with the trading company? Is this method characteristic of him? Explain.

5. How did the position that Marlow takes become vacant?

6. Describe the company’s headquarters. What feeling does the place give Marlow?

7. How does Marlow’s aunt view his new assignment? Does Marlow agree with her?


8. What does Marlow mean when he says the journey down the African coast takes him away from the “truth of things”?

9. What does Marlow find in the “grove of death”?

10. Why does Marlow say he “respects” the company’s elegant accountant? Is his comment sincere?

11. What does the accountant tell Marlow about Kurtz? Why doesn’t the accountant write to the ivory agent?

12. What horrors does Marlow encounter on the journey to the central station?

13. To what does the general manager owe his position?

14. How did the steamboat sink?

15. Who are the “pilgrims”? What is Marlow’s opinion of them?

16. What is significant about the conversation Marlow overhears the night the shed burns down?

17. Describe the painting in the brickmaker’s cabin. What is Marlow’s reaction to it?

18. What mistake has the brickmaker made about Marlow? Why does Marlow not correct him?

19. How long does it take Marlow to repair his boat? What is the reason for the delay?

20. What is the Eldorado Exploring Expedition? How does Marlow react to it?

21. What does the conversation between the manager and his uncle, which Marlow overhears, reveal about their attitudes toward Kurtz?

22. What happens to the Eldorado Exploring Expedition? How does the news affect Marlow?

23. What mood does the jungle create as Marlow journeys upriver?

24. How does Marlow occupy his time during the trip upriver?

25. Discuss Marlow’s reaction to the savages he sees along the shore?

26. What does Marlow find at the abandoned station?

27. Why, in Marlow’s opinion, do the cannibals not murder and eat the white men aboard the steamer?

28. Why does Marlow refuse the manager’s order to continue upriver?

29. Describe the attack on the steamboat?

30. Why is the attack disappointing to Marlow?

3l. How does Marlow respond to the death of the helmsman?

32. Describe the person who greets Marlow at the inner station.

33. What is the Russian’s opinion of Kurtz?

34. How has Kurtz managed to accumulate ivory without supplies for trading?

35. What does Marlow’s first glimpse of Kurtz reveal?

36. Describe the scene acted out by the native woman. What effect does it create?

37. What is Kurtz’s opinion of the general manager’s mission?

38. What information does the Russian confide to Marlow? Why does he trust Marlow?

39. Why does the Russian return to the jungle?

40. Why does Marlow try to capture Kurtz alone?

41. What is the cause of Kurtz’ madness?

42. How and why does Marlow save the lives of Kurtz’s grieving followers?

43. How does Kurtz approach death? What do his final words mean?

44. Who visits Marlow when he returns to Europe? What do they want and what do they reveal about Kurtz?

45. What lie does Marlow tell Kurtz’s “intended”? What are his reasons for lying?