First published in Blackwood’s magazine as a three part serial in 1899 and published in 1902, _Heart of Darkness_ centers on the experiences of protagonist Charles Marlow as he is assigned the duty to transport ivory down the Congo River. Conrad cleverly uses foreshadowing as a technique to convey the novella’s themes of hypocritical imperialism, the contradictory views on civilized as opposed to barbaric societies, racism, and the conflict between reality and darkness. Set in the second half of the nineteenth century, the story begins with the introduction of protagonist Charles Marlow, who is on board a boat harbored in the River Thames. Marlow proceeds to recount his exciting tale about his voyage into the depths of Africa to his fellow companions, therefore beginning the novella’s frame narrative style. Marlow gives details of the events that led to his appointment as a river boat captain working for a Belgian ivory trading company, referred to simply as The Company. During his passage on several ships, Marlow witnesses gruesome sights of the natives who are ill-treated and exposed to the harshest forms of brutality. He records starvation, exploitation and enslavement as some of the injustices forcefully applied by the Company’s agents. When the protagonist arrives at the Outer Station he meets the chief accountant, who first mentions Mr. Kurtz and regards him as a first-class agent. Subsequently, Marlow finds his way to the Central Station, where his allocated steamboat awaits him, but unfortunately the boat is wrecked and he must wait until it is repaired. Left no choice other than to wait, Marlow becomes more intrigued by the mysterious Mr. Kurtz, as he learns the valuable position he holds within the community. The story continues with its gripping development that in turn destroy Marlow’s initial dreamy outlook on life and instead exhibits the true extent of man’s cruelty and selfishness. Interestingly, Conrad partly based the novella on his personal experience while he spent some time travelling in Africa, and even served as a captain on a steam boat, where he encountered some of the issues prevalent in the novella. A classic proven to stimulate the mind, _Heart of Darkness_ enthralls with its unrestricted possibility of individual interpretation, and the overwhelming questions about human nature that the book incites.
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