Heart of Darkness

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Genres: Best books ever listing
Language: English
Type: Digital

Heart of Darkness, first published in 1899, is a novel by Polish-English novelist Joseph Conrad that delves into the psychological and moral journey of Charles Marlow, a sailor tasked with retrieving a powerful ivory trader named Kurtz from the depths of the Congo River. The novel is largely considered a masterpiece of English literature and one of the most significant works in postcolonial studies.

Plot Summary

The novel begins with Marlow aboard a steamer ship named the Nellie, anchored on the Thames River in London. He recounts his journey into the Congo, as a steamboat captain commissioned by a Belgian trading company to retrieve Mr. Kurtz, an enigmatic ivory trader operating deep within the African interior.

As Marlow ventures up the Congo, he encounters a series of disturbing scenes that reflect the brutal exploitation of the Congolese people by European colonizers. He witnesses the ruthless methods used by the company to extract ivory, and he observes the devastating impact of colonial rule on the local population.

Finally, after a treacherous journey, Marlow reaches Kurtz's remote outpost. He discovers that Kurtz has become physically and mentally ill, consumed by the power and wealth he has amassed. Marlow is both fascinated and repelled by Kurtz, who represents the dark side of human nature and the destructive potential of unfettered power.


Heart of Darkness explores a range of complex themes, including:

  • The dangers of imperialism and colonialism
  • The destructive potential of unchecked power
  • The struggle between good and evil
  • The complexity of human nature
  • The search for meaning and purpose in life


The novel features a cast of memorable characters, including:

  • Charles Marlow: The protagonist of the novel, Marlow is a sailor who narrates the story of his journey into the Congo.
  • Mr. Kurtz: An enigmatic ivory trader who has become physically and mentally ill.
  • The Manager: The ruthless head of the Belgian trading company.
  • The Accountant: A dedicated but morally conflicted clerk who works for the trading company.
  • The Cannibal Queen: A powerful and fearsome figure who rules a tribe deep within the Congo.


Heart of Darkness is considered one of the most important works of English literature. It has been translated into numerous languages and adapted into films, television series, and operas. The novel continues to be studied and discussed by scholars and readers alike.

Here are some of the novel's most famous quotes:

  • "The horror! The horror!"
  • "The darkness of the Congo had taken on a tragic and mournful character, as if it had absorbed from the soul of the dead black all the pain and suffering of his senseless life."
  • "What is the worst that could happen? I tell you, he never told me how he came to be there, to the farthest point penetration he said. The farthest point of penetration will be reached sooner or later, I mean. Only it’s best to keep your end up – to the last."
  • "The meaning of an episode was left in some degree obscure — a hint, to me, of depths beyond my reach."
  • "Do you know what you have done?"

Heart of Darkness is a gripping and thought-provoking novel that explores the dark side of human nature and the dangers of unchecked power. It is a powerful and enduring work of literature that continues to resonate with readers today.


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