Heart of Darkness Analysis

Essay by maheralexHigh School, 12th gradeA+, October 2014

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Heart of Darkness- Indexing





The narrative starts with the Narrator describing the scene from the deck of a ship named Nellie as it rests at anchor at the mouth of the River Thames, near London.

There are five men on board the ship-the Director of Companies, the Lawyer, the Accountant, the Narrator, and Marlow, bound by the "bond of the sea", old friends from their seafaring days-settle down to await the changing of the tide.

They stare down the mouth of the river into the Atlantic Ocean, a view that stretches like "the beginning of an interminable waterway."

The opening establishes a dark tone.

Water is often a symbol of the flow of thought (unconsciousness).

The "interminable waterway"- the interminable thought and movement of civilization.

Interesting that the characters on the ship are known by their jobs and not their names hint at the structure and values of civilization: their selves have been swallowed by their roles.


In silence they watch the sunset, and the narrator remembers the fabled ships and men of English history who set sail from the Thames on voyages of trade or conquest, carrying with them "The dreams of men, the seed of commonwealths, the germs of empire."

The unnamed narrator's thoughts about conquest and colonialism- seem to be conventional and romantic as the reader can not associate with one type of person- the ambiguity suggests general opinion -that great men go out with great dreams and build great empires to the greater glory of the world.


Suddenly Marlow interrupts the silence. "And this also," Marlow says, "has been one of the dark places of the earth." He imagines England as it must have appeared to the first Romans sent to conquer it: a savage, mysterious place that...