Book Review: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad is a fiction book which is set in the 19th century in the Congo Free state controlled by Belgian. Conrad uses his European heritage and more modern views to allow for the readers to be submerged into the scramble for Africa and European society at the time.

This book is a very complex, with a lot symbolism, rhetorical devices, and sophisticated language. Heart of Darkness is a shorter book at 77 pages but don’t let that fool you as it is very dense. I really enjoyed this book as it had many important themes regarding the spread of colonialism and made me question whether or not every item had a deeper hidden meaning. In the book as the main character travels through his hero’s journey and farther into Africa we can see the horrors of colonialism on the African peoples, the descent into ones id or their primal instincts, and the prevailing societal values at the time.

I recommend this book to anyone that loves a deep and thoughtful read. Due to some of the outdated and complex language it may be difficult to read and that is why I would also recommend the graphic novel adaptation of the book. It still gets the same themes and elements as the book but simply conveys these through images that are just as deep and appealing.

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Book Review: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

heart_darknessWritten as a narrative, Polish author Joseph Conrad writes about a character known as Charles Marlow. Charles Marlow is a ivory transporter who works down Central Africa traveling through the Congo river. From the beginning of the story, Charles Marlow is sort of obsessed with the “yellow” colored river on the map, the Congo River. It is this obsession that leads Marlow to work for a company that transports ivory down in Central Africa. Curious fact is though, that this company has had many steamer captains, the recent one of which died due to savage natives. However, this seems as nothing out of the ordinary since Marlow is set on traveling through the Congo River. Marlow joins the Belgian ivory trade firm and starts up on a journey to Africa.

During his journey through Central Africa, Marlow hears of an important and successful man named Kurtz. From the accountant, Marlow learns that Mr. Kurtz is a respectful man who has gained the most ivory compared to the other posts. Kurtz is sick, however he still has ambitions of becoming a manager within the ivory company. Even though Marlow does not know much of Kurtz, he starts to adore him, and eventually becomes obsessed. Throughout the trip, Marlow goes through many experiences, such as having a dead crew member fall at his feet and bleed to death, and get attacked on the ship by the local natives. In the conclusion of the story, Kurtz eventually dies, and Marlow is left looking into the darkness.

-Nirmeet B., 11th grade