A Century of Darkness:

An Examination and Analysis of the Historical Context and Criticism on Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness Darkness

Joseph Conrad

Kevin Colodner
Mike Vare
Marley Lefelar
Ben Silver


During the later 19th century and earlier part of the 20th century, the imperialistic wave was sweeping across Europe. The African continent was systematically carved up and divided between greedy European nations for the wealth of resources it held, with absolutely no regard given to the reprecussions it would have on the native peoples and the land itself. This is looked at as one of the lowest points in humanity's history of equality and tolerance of others. Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness is a thought-provoking novella that confronts these selfish and disturbing tendencies of many European nations in this time period, focusing primarily on the state of affairs in the Congo. The primary narrator in the story, Marlow, relates to his fellow seamen the sobering exprience of his travels through the Congo and the atrocities he witnessed there. There have been numerous interpretations of Conrad's intent in writing Heart of Darkness. However, it is quite clear that through his story, Conrad accurately represents how the colonial imperialism of the era played out, the opinions of Europeans at that time on issues such as imperialism and emerging psychological theories, and the state of the Congo during the time of its European occupation.

Critical Reception

  • Overview

Like many timeless literary works, Heart of Darkness did not explode onto the literary scene. It took years of meticulous criticism and interpretation until the core theme and ideas could be isolated and work recognized as extraordinary.

Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness was first published in 1899 in Blackwood's Magazine. In a letter to William Blackwood, Conrad expressed that the subject of his African story was "very much our time," meaning that topics in Heart of Darkness, such as imperialism and catastrophic conditions in the Congo, are real. Conrad himself believes that his retelling of his journey into Africa is meant to be historically accurate.

A picture of Blackwood's Magazine
Three years after its primary release in Blackwood's magazine, it was published in Youth. Early reviewers typically all held the opinion the Marlow serves solely the role of a communicator of events, and has no additional function besides a narrator. It wasn’t until critics Albert Guerard and Thomas Moser challenged this notion in the late 1950s that critics’ opinions began to change. They assert that Marlow goes through an important character change and gains large amounts of self-knowledge, which is essential to the novella. Moser makes the insight that “Marlow in the jungle is like the reader in text, that somehow Marlow’s quest for self-knowledge must be doubled by our own.” (Murfin 101-102).

Criticism starting in 1960 has been termed New Criticism of formalism, referring to the rejection of seeing literature as conveying an author’s opinions or experiences. Much of the criticism on Heart of Darkness that dominated during this era focused on seeing life not as discreet events, but unified as a continuum, and furthermore asserting that Africans were fully in touch with this unity of nature, whereas Europeans have drifted away, necessitating the need to artificial create beliefs and values (Murfin 103-106). Leo Gurko, Avrom Fleishman, and Bruce Johnson were all critics that were influenced by formalism and hence generally all held this view of Conrad’s novella.

Since 1971, the scope of criticism has evolved into consideration of the literary, rather than philosophical ideas the novella. David Thornburn was a notable critic of this time who thought of Heart of Darkness as a “modified adventure tale” (Thornburn qtd. in Murfin 106), because of its first-person narrative technique. He also thought of it as divergent of Romantic Poetry, which, up until Heart of Darkness’s publication, was the only literary genre to use such a style as “memory across time and the juxtaposition of an older poet with his younger self.” (Ibid qtd. in Murfin 106), which can be seen in Heart of Darkness.

The 1980s brought an end to the formalist school of thought, which meant authors’ experiences are now considered in critiques. It also put an emphasis on the social context in which a story is written, as opposed to examining works as if they were “hermetically sealed.” (Murfin 107). Critics such as Daniel Schwarz and Ian Watt pointed to Conrad’s past journey through the Congo as a means of how the novella was shaped, and suggested the ways in which Conrad expresses Marlow’s journey and self-discoveries as Conrad’s own. Additional speculations on how the impressionist movement may have influenced Conrad’s hazy style were discussed as well in this time period (Murfin 108-110).

Modern critiques of the novella are characterized by highly diverse and interdisciplinary focuses. Very often they seem to build off of ideas from earlier critics and take them in a new direction. It seems that the more critiques that arise from Heart of Darkness, the more themes and concepts that are yet to be explored emerge.

  • Early Criticism

Edward Garnett was the first major reviewer of the novella, and he deplored the fact that as of yet no one else had given recognition to the immense talent Conrad possessed. (Garnett qtd. in Murfin 97). Garnett was the first to see past the definite images to the underlying idea surrounding the work, a feat even Conrad knew many critics would have trouble deciphering (Murfin 97-98). Other early reviewers, however, claimed that Conrad’s themes are too hazy. E.M. Forster criticized Conrad for being too “misty” (Forster qtd. in Murfin 98), and likewise John Masefield complained of “too much cobweb in Heart of Darkness” (Masefield qtd in Murfin 98). A third critic, F.R. Leavis , also comments on this supposed over-philosophizing in the novella, attacking Conrad’s ambiguous vocabulary concerning his constant use of words such as, “unspeakable”, inconceivable”, and “inexpressible” (Leavis qtd. in Murfin 100) which lack concreteness and really true description.

  • Late Criticism

The late criticisms of Heart of Darkness also focus on themes of racism and sexism, psychological undertones, and the obvious criticism of imperialism Conrad weaves in. Most present critics agree that Conrad was racist, and his writing reflected and purveyed his racist, sexist, and anti-Semitic views. With the world being much more liberal and tolerant than it was in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, it is not difficult to see how Conrad’s famous novella is seen the way it is as compared to its initial reception, when it was hailed as “A most amazing, consummate piece of artistic diablerie-an analysis of the white man’s morale when let loose from European restraint, and planted down in the tropics as an ‘emissary of the light’ armed to the teeth to make trade profits out of subject races”(Haugh 35). Most modern critics of the novella focus on past critiques, and either elaborate on the thesis of the original author or show a new and/or improved approach to viewing Heart of Darkness.

Chinua Achebe’s view of Heart of Darkness as a racist work is a critique that is still heavily referenced and confirmed by modern critics. Godwin Ede, a literary critic who wrote an essay on Achebe and Heart of Darkness, said “Should it be surprising that in all his novels dealing with black people he never had any redeeming words for these characters” (Ede 1). The majority of modern critics believe that it is undeniable that Conrad was racist, regardless of whether he was conscious of this fact or not. Ede, building on Achebe’s famous essay “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.”

Imperialism remains the most concrete theme present in Heart of Darkness, and Conrad even wrote to the editor of Blackwood’s magazine prior to the publication of his novella that the story was about the “criminal inefficiency pure selfishness when tackling the civilizing work in Africa” (Papke 589). However it is still disputed whether Conrad’s purpose was to support or protest imperialism, and whether or not he was referring to imperialism in general, or just Belgian imperialism in the Congo.

Evidence from the story however suggests that Conrad was referring to Imperialism in general, based on the fact that “Even though the company for which Marlow works is clearly Belgian, it is named the Continental Trading Company and, suggesting imperialism in general, Conrad frequently refers to it simply as ‘the Company’.” There’s also Kurtz, whose name is German, but has a half-French father and a half-English mother. As Conrad wrote in Heart of Darkness, “All Europe contributed to the making of Kurtz,”citation needed here and this can be taken as a metaphor for how all of Europe contributed to imperialism and its horrors, not just Belgium (Papke 592).

  • Psychological Criticism

Frederick R. Karl opens his critical review with the bold assertation that “Heart of Darkness is possibly the greatest short novel in English fiction, and is one of the greatest in any language.” (Karl qtd. in Murfin 123). In his psychoanalytical critique, Karl draws insightful parallels between themes present in the novel and principles of Freudian psychology. Karl presents the perspective that Marlow’s harrowing experience can be looked upon as a dream, a subject which with Freud was very concerned. Freud proposed the idea the dreams served the purpose of “wish fulfillment”, when people can let out such feelings as sexual urges and aggression, which are usually suppressed in everyday interactions. Karl connects this idea to Conrad’s novel, implying that people often have underlying selfish motives and will even oppress others just for the power it brings to them (Karl qtd. in Murfin 125-128). This recurring theme in Conrad's story is an excellent example of the historical accuracy of the times, here concerning psychological theories and opinions at the turn of the century. It is perhaps no coincidence that most of Freud's groundbreaking insights were published just at the time Conrad was conceiving Heart of Darkness. Karl further concludes that in embedding this idea, Conrad emphasizes the irrationality of politics: fredd.jpg

“The absence of social morality, the desire to rise at everyone’s expense, the manipulation of whole peoples for purely selfish ends, the obsession with image and consensus, and personal power, the absence of meaningful beliefs, the drive for advancement and aggrandizement without larger considerations, the career built on manipulations and strategies and not ideas: these are the traits that have characterized the leaders of our age, that have become the expected burden of the ruled in our century.” (Karl qtd. in Murfin 129)

This can clearly be interpreted as Conrad, who disbelieved in Europe's hypocritical policies in Africa, protesting against current leaders.

Marlow sees this “gap” in what people’s perception of the world is and what it’s really like when he embarks on his journey. At the start of the novel, Marlow is convinced that everyone has a strong sense of morality and that it is the general intent of all to promote good in the world. He was not prepared for huge extent of evil he sees in the jungle (Karl qtd. in Murfin 126).

Karl presents an interesting idea that Conrad expresses this evil and vast selfishness Marlow observes through the imagery of numerous solid and mechanical images, such as a French gunboat, nuts and bolts decaying, overturned equipment, and the rusted steamboat (Karl qtd. in Murfin 127). He concludes that Conrad is showing how “one must become object, tough, and durable in order to survive.” (Karl qtd.in Murfin 128). The realization causes a permanent psychological alteration in Marlow, and plays a key role in the overall theme of the novella. It also relates to the "toughness" of Europeans of the current time period, who with their advanced technology and knowledge, oppressed the weaker Africans.

  • A Prominent Negative Critic and Rebuttal

As stated earlier, Chinua Achebe’s criticism of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness has left a permanent mark on the novel. Achebe accuses Conrad of being a “bloody racist” and “that Heart of Darkness cannot be regarded as a great work of art” (Curtler, 30). Achebe claims that Conrad incorporates “elements of racism” in his novel to convey racist messages “which celebrate [the dehumanization of Africa and Africans], and depersonalizes a portion of the human race (Curtler, 30-31). Achebe believes that Heart of Darkness is “a book which parades in the most vulgar fashion prejudices and insults from which a section of mankind has suffered untold agonies and atrocities, and calls into question the very humanity of black people” (Curtler, 30). Achebe’s strongest argument is that Heart of Darkness cannot be a work of art because if is racist and “sets people against people” (Curtler, 36).

Hugh Curtler, however, challenges Achebe’s criticism by saying “Achebe never really differentiates between the author and his protagonist [Marlow],” and that “Marlow’s usage of the term “nigger” may not imply that Marlow himself considers the term demeaning or insulting. One suspects he uses the term as he might any other, since the word certainly didn’t elicit the same emotional charge in the late nineteenth century as it does today” (Curtler, 31-32).

Curtler further refutes Achebe’s criticism by pointing out Achebe’s blatant misquotation of the text and a change in the context of Heart of Darkness. One example of which is Achebe quoting Conrad in saying “'Marlow says, “What thrilled you was just the thought of their humanity—like yours. Ugly.'” When in fact Conrad writes, “… what thrilled you was just the thought of their humanity—like yours—the thought of your remote kinship with the wild and passionate uproar. Ugly.” (Curtler, 35).

Curtler further defends Conrad by saying “ his descriptions of the native people he saw are not intentionally denigrating: they are intended to be descriptions of people and events he saw. The racist elements in this case would be, at best, inadvertent, but hardly a “celebration” of the dehumanization of Africa” (Curtler, 32).

Curtler goes on to say that Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness is historically accurate to the Congo of the time period. “Conrad’s quite genuine revulsion over what he found once he actually visited the Congo and experienced first hand “the vilest scramble for loot that ever disfigured the history of human conscience and geographical exploration” (Curtler, 33). “Thus Heart of Darkness is a great piece of literature, because the novel’s inherent ambiguities and the textual evidence to unsettle his or her convictions and prejudices” (Curtler, 39).

Depiction of History in Story vs. Reality

Imperialism in the 20th Century

In the early 20th century, the Industrial revolution was brewing, and the superior European countries were looking for more power. In those days, more power meant more land. So, nations sought to expand not only within their own borders, but to explore oversea empires and look for new benefits in foreign lands. The best land to dominate was a land rich in natural resources. Considering Africa alone provides “46 percent of the world's chromium, 48 percent of its diamonds, 29 percent of its gold and 48 percent of its platinum,” (Mannion,1) it is safe to say Africa has a plentiful amount of natural resources. Because of this, many countries attempted to colonize Africa with economic influences, political pressure, and, more commonly, military force. Africa's population was completely defenseless to European military forces since the majority of Africa was made up of primitive people who had not even seen a gun before. Great Britain as well as France and Germany easily took control of about 90 percent of Africa's land in the imperial period. Imperialism in the 20th century introduced a great amount of hardship and suffering to the countries that fell victim to it. Africa's people were turned into slaves, just as seen in Conrad's Heart of Darkness.

The division of Africa by Imperialist powers in 1913

data above from Modern World History: Patterns of Interaction , 1999 by McDougal Littell, page 308

Prior to his journey into the Congo, Marlow meets with his new employer. In his employer's Brussels office, Marlow notices a map of Africa mounted on the wall divided up by colors. "There was a vast amount of red...a deuce of a lot of blue, a little green, smears of orange, and on the East Coast, a purple patch" (Conrad, 45). Similar to the above pie chart, maps in the early 20th century represented the separation of imperial territories according to a color-coded system. Marlow's references suggest that red is for British, blue for the French, green for Italy, orange for Portuguese, purple for German, and yellow for Belgium. So, taking a look at the above chart, we are able to see that Marlow's accounts of the imperialist segmentations are historically accurate--mostly French and British followed by a few significant others.
  • Imperialism and the Congo in the 20th Century

    • Origin
Sir Henry Morton Stanley is primarily responsible for putting the Congo on the imperialist map. It was he who, in 1877, discovered that the Congo River, previously thought unable to be navigated through due to rough rapids was in fact more tame some miles upstream. This would greatly ease the process of exploration and transportation of resources to and from settlements within. He brought his discovery to King Leopold II of Belgium, who was eager to establish a Belgian presence in Africa, and in a little over half a century it developed into probably the richest territory in Africa (Bartlett 88-90). Conrad makes a clear reference to this river in his novella, and his manner in how he incorporated it lies parallel to the historical fact that reports of this river instigated massive exploration in the Congo. "But there was in it one river especially, a mighty big river, that you could see on the map, resembling an immense snake...The snake had charmed me." (Conrad 6). Marlow was enticed, as many others were, by this giant "snake" to sail off into the unknown.

    • Influence

By the time the Congo had become a well-established Belgium territory, it was home to approximately 76,000 Europeans, with five major companies controlling nine-tenths of the capital investment (Bartlett 91). In his story, Conrad accurately cites a very large trading company influence in the Congo. Marlow knows that in order him to explore, he must "piggy-back" on the companies. "I thought to myself, they [the companies] can't trade without using some kind of craft on that lot of fresh water...Why shouldn't I try to get in charge of one?" (Conrad 6).

According to historical context, the treatment of African workers was mixed. The Europeans who gained a tribal following did not wastefully extermine the Africans, but rather made an effort to "preserve a healthy and contented labor force” (Bartlett 93), albeit this may signify that they look upon the Africans as merely resources for pursuing their own interests. The natives also benefited from fresh water and electricity (Bartlett 92). Due to this treatment, an African reliance on the Europeans developed. However, despite the favorable conditions, those who dared to step out of line were swiftly dealt with. Political dissenters were often exiled, and those who failed to pay taxes were put in a prisoner labor force. Basically, the Africans were treated well as long as they showed compliance. There was also strict segregation between European and African towns, and restrictions on African education (Bartlett 93). Conrad's Kurtz exemplifies this role of the European in the Congo excellently. In accordance with historical fact, the Africans "adored him [Kurtz]" (Conrad 50), and yet, Kurtz had zero tolerance for those who stepped out of line, as evidenced by "those heads on the stakes" (Conrad 52) surrounding his house.

  • Congolese Authors

The historical context and accuracy of the novel Heart of Darkness can be seen in the literature of the Congolese people and authors who have experienced the imperialism in the Congo. “The Congolese remember the experienced colonial violence throught eh medium of literature. Since Joseph Conrad’s paradigmatic Heart of Darkness there has been a fascination of the Congo as a space of overwhelming nature, unspeakable violence and human nature at its extreme” (Gehrmann, 1). Jospeh Conrad’s novel has been compared to novels written by Congolese authors and although it comes from a different point of view, they compare by describing similar events in history. “The Congo was notorious as a place of excessive violence “among the natives” as well as “upon the natives”, with its rubber exploitation and railway construction”(Gehrmann, 1). One author even made a reference to Heart of Darkness, “ a navigation up the Congo, allow the narrator to pursue a fragmented reconstruction of the violent history carried out on the bodies of the African subjects” (Gehrmann, 5). In comparison to Congolese authors’ novels Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is historically accurate with the times. The Congolese authors do however point out the point of view the novel was written from. That it shows the natives in a negative light and as uncivilized and possibly dehumanized, similar to the ideas from Achebe’s criticism.

Evidence in Heart of Darkness Supporting Historical Truth

King Leopold II collected over 900,000 square miles of land in central Africa, some of which consisted of the Congo Free State. Eventually, Leopold transformed the Congo into an ivory labor camp where thousands of tribal Africans were treated as animals and forced to work. In his book "Geography and Some Explorers," Conrad labeled imperialism in the Congo "the vilest scramble for loot that ever disfigured the history of human conscience" (Conrad, 17). The slaves were forced to suffer unsanitary working conditions that yielded murders, starvation, contraction of European diseases, in addition to a sharply decreased birth rate throughout the Congo. Years later it was published that the estimated depopulation toll during the Imperialist era in Africa was approximately ten million people. Conrad's Heart of Darkness withholds many historical accuracies as well as instances of his moral outrage towards Imperialism in the Congo and the white man's harsh treatment of the natives. In Heart of Darkness, Marlow witnesses natives that "crouched, lay, sat between the trees leaning against the trunks, clinging to the earth, half coming out, half effaced within the dim light, in all attitudes of pain, abandonment, and despair...they were dying slowly--it was very clear. They were not enemies, they were not criminals, they were nothing earthly now,--nothing but black shadows of disease and starvation, lying confusedly in the greenish gloom" (Conrad, 52-53). Just as the historic statistics demonstrate, death wiped out the natives in exponential increments due to starvation, disease, and abuse. When Marlow first arrives in Africa, he learns of Kurtz's apparent humanitarian attitude towards the natives. Looking forward to working with a man who, unlike Europeans in other ivory trading companies, treated the indigenous people well--it came as a surprise when Marlow sees that Kurtz rules the natives with a bloodthirsty finger just like any other power-stricken European. In this respect, the historical truth is very similar to Conrad's text. Conrad's anti-imperialist opinion are obvious through Marlow's character. While floating on the boat towards the Congo, Marlow expresses that "the conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much" (Conrad, 41). The character of Marlow is voicing Conrad's disapproval of imperialism. Just because people live in a different place, practice a different culture, have different colored skin, and even a different shaped nose there is no reason they are inferior to white-skinned Europeans.

Conrad's Experience in Africa vs. Account in Heart of Darkness

Conrad’s own personal journey into the African Congo as a young man was a major impact on his perception of that region and of imperialism, and ultimately on Heart of Darkness. In 1890 Conrad set out on a voyage to the Belgian Congo on special arrangements from a Belgian Company, while working for the British merchant marine. When he ventured off to the Congo, Conrad had been a man of the sea since his late teenage years, and had also been a member of the French merchant marine, as a result of connections from his uncle in France (Papke 584-585).
Upon his arrival in the Congo, Conrad piloted the steamer Roi des Belges up the Congo River, and into the heart of Africa. During his time in Africa, Conrad fell very ill to dysentery, fever, and gout, and as a result never fulfilled his contractual obligations. Overall, his work there was boring and undelightful. Finally, in 1894 Conrad settled down in England, giving up his life at sea. He immediately adopted the pen name of “Joseph Conrad”, instead of Jozef Teodor Konrad Nalecz Korzeniowski, his original Polish name (Papke 585).
The Roi des Belges was the steamboat that Conrad captained along the Congo River.

Based on his works and background, critics were quick to call Conrad a “novelist of the sea”, however Conrad himself was quick to debunk such claims. He was not denying the obvious setting and outward theme of the sea present in his novelsm but rather was upset that people weren’t seeing the deeper meaning in his works. According to Conrad, the sea molds character “yet, in setting the conditions for shipboard drama-as to some extent it inevitably must-it reveals, like a mirror, the face of character itself.” Much of what is seen in Marlow’s character can be interpreted as parts of Conrad as well, and many of the realizations and feelings experienced in the fictional journey into the Congo are the same or at least close to what Conrad experienced as a seaman (Papke 585).
It is undeniable that Conrad went to the Congo, however one topic of discussion amongst critics of Conrad, is what he actually saw while there, and how much of what goes on in Heart of Darkness is true, realistic, fabrication, or entirely false. Some critics, such as Patrick Brantlinger, claim that much of what is described in the novella, such as the acts of cannibalism by the native Africans, is not anything that Conrad himself witnessed but rather is hearsay and information obtained from other parties. In the words of Godwin Ede, and other critics who believe Conrad to be racist and Heart of Darkness to be a negative work, the six months he spent in the Congo, in which he was ill a good amount of time, were utterly insufficient to make many of the claims he did in his book (Ede 2).

  • Exploration of the Congo by Stanley and Party

The most effective way to assess the veracity of Conrad’s account of the Congo in Heart of Darkness would logically be to compare it side by side with others’ explorations in the area, particularly others who would not be tempted to distort facts and experiences, as they have only diaries to write in, as opposed to Conrad who had a novella to sell. By taking a peak into the diary of Henry Morton Stanley, perhaps the first true pioneer in the Congo territory, and one member of his party, it is possible gain new perspectives on exactly what went on in Africa during European imperialism.

Henry Morton Stanley

Unfortunately not much from Stanley’s diaries in the Congo has been recovered. But what is known is harrowing enough that a further account of events is not necessary, nor even desired. The chronology of the entries is from January 4th to February 7th, and although no year is available, it can be assumed that it took place in the late 1800s, the time of his journeys through the vast jungle. Although the exact time span is left unclear, Stanley states that he has engaged the natives in twenty-six separate fights on this voyage, which is a lot in any regard. His entries are mainly concerned with the security issues, normally consisting of fighting the native Africans, both when provoked and when his party desired to raid their camps for supplies (Goonetilleke 178). At one of the party’s most desperate points, when their food supply had run out, Stanley had said “if they do not come to us [with food] we will go and eat them.” (Goonetilleke qtd. Stanley 178) .This proposal to resort to the most primitive and disturbing of human behaviors truly emphasizes the great hardships experienced by travelers in the Congo and the tendency to be exceedingly cruel to the native population, which is quite similar to descriptions in Conrad’s novella as the Congo being an unappeasing land, and as the natives being quite a hostile people.

In William G. Stairs’ diary, who was a member of Stanley’s party, there were few positive things written of the Africans and the trip as a whole. Stairs basically summarized the natives as primitive people who are greatly afraid of white men, who hang charms on their huts to ward off evil spirits, and who have a very underdeveloped moral code, as Stairs observed the body of a dead African impaled on a pole for killing one of his own (Goonetilleke 179-181). Similar hostile tactics are also mentioned. Interestingly, he also describes their journey in a manner strikingly similar to that in Conrad’s novella. Basically they just floated down the Congo River traveling from station to station with a distant final destination in the future, with ivory as the sole incentive for their trip (Goonetilleke 184). Both of these accounts confirm that Conrad was not making any great leaps from his experience in the Congo to the pages of
Heart of Darkness.


It is no outlandish claim to say that "Heart of Darkness must be among the most interpreted books in English fiction." (Benita Parry qtd. in Kaplan, Mallios, White 39). In fact, what has been discussed on this page is only presented with perhaps one or two focuses. There are whole different realms of criticism about this short but intensely provoking story. However, with the presentation of revelvent criticism and historical backround information, we hope that some of the debate about the accuracy of this novella as compared to the actual course of history is quieted. Indeed Heart of Darkness is a work of fiction. But oftentimes works of fiction can teach us things that even the most comprehensive textbooks may fail to convey. Conrad thoughroughly describes how the Europeans indifferently invaded Africa and subdued the natives, just as many historical account can easily confirm. True elements of history, such as how imperialism played out, Africans' account of the Europeans' prescence in their land, and Europeans' account of that same time period can all be seen interwoven in Heart of Darkness. Perhaps this novella could serve a better role in history classrooms as opposed to English classrooms.

Works Cited

Text Cited

Atkinson, William. "Bound in Blackwood's: The Imperialism in 'The Heart of

Darkness' in its Immediate Context."
Twentieth-Century Literature 50.4

(2009): 368-393.
JSTOR. Web. 7 Dec. 2009. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/


Bartlett, Vernon. Struggle for Africa. Frederick A. Praeger, Inc. New York, New York. 1953.

Conrad, Joseph. Geography and Some Explorers. Washington D.C.: National

Geographic Society, 1924. Print.

Conrad, Joseph.
Heart of Darkness. Project Gutenberg EBook, 9 January 2006. 1899.

Curtler, Hugh. "Achebe on Conrad: Racism and Greatness in Heart of Darkness." Texas A&M University Campus Libraries Courier N.p.,
2003. Web. 3 Dec. 2009.

Gehrmann, Susan. “Remembering colonial violence: inter/textual strategies of Congolese authors.” Tyskrif vir Letterkunde 46.1 (2009):

11+. Academic OneFile. Web. 3 Dec. 2009. <http://find.galegroup.com/gtx/start.do?prodid=AONE&userGroupName=udel_main>.

Hawkes, Hunt. "Conrad's Critique of Imperialism in Heart of Darkness." PMLA 94.2

(1979): n. pag. JSTOR. Web. 13 Nov. 2009. <http://www.jstor.org/stable/461892?cookieSet=1>.

Kaplan, Carola, Mallios, Peter, White, Andrea. Conrad in the 21st Century: Contemporary Approaches and Perspectives. Routledge.

Milton Park, Abingdon, U.K. 2005.

Karl, Frederick R.
Introduction to the Dnse Macabre: Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Modern Fiction Studies. Purdue Reserch Foundation,

Indiana. 1968.

Littell, McDougal. The Scramble for Africa. N.p., 1999. Web. 7 Dec. 2009. <http://www.laredoclass.net/scrambleafrica.htm>.

Mannion, Jenne. "Africa's natural resources are a potential gold mine." The Independent (July 2006): n. pag. JSTOR. Web. 7 Dec. 2009.

Murfin, Ross C. Heart of Darkness: A Case Study in Contemporary Criticism. St. Martin's Press, Inc. 175 Fifth Avenue New York, NY.


Rush, Norman. "Heart of Darkness." The New York Review of Books 11 Aug.

2005: 49+. General OneFile. Web. 2 Dec. 2009. <http://findgalegroup.com/gtx/start.do?prodId=ITOF&userGroupName=udel_main

Images Cited

"Heart of Darkness." Wikipedia N.p., Nov. 2009. Web. 3 Dec. 2009. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heart_of_Darkness>.

"Heart of Darkness." Joseph Conrad N.p., n.d. Web. 5 Dec. 2009. <http://www90.homepage.villanova.edu/marc.napolitano/conrad.htm>.

"Henry Morton Stanley" Wikipedia. 9 December 2009. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Morton_Stanley