Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness


Pick one of the following topics to explore in your first short essay. Remember that – although your essay should be only 900-1,000 words long – it should still follow traditional expository essay format, with an introductory paragraph containing a thesis, a body that supports your argument, and a conclusion.

  1. Discuss the novel’s representation of the nature in the Congo. What are some of the main themes that the narrator establishes? What preconceptions lie behind these descriptions? Hint: think about how nature and time relate to one another in these descriptions.
  2. What does Kurtz say in his report to the Society for Suppression of Savage Customs. What does this suggest about his frame of mind? How does it compare with the way in which other people in the book describe Kurtz?
  3. Compare and contrast the novel’s depiction of Kurtz’s Congolese mistress and his European fiancée, whom he calls his “Intended.” Why do you think Conrad chose to depict these two women? What does Marlow say about the role of women in “civilization”?

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