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'Heart of Darkness' Questions for Study and Discussion

Joseph Conrad's Famous Work

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Study Guide Heart of Darkness is one of the most famous works by Joseph Conrad. But, what does it mean? Why is the novella so controversial? What does the work have to say about humanity? Here are a few questions for study and discussion, related to Heart of Darkness.
  • What is important about the title?

  • What are the conflicts in Heart of Darkness? What types of conflict (physical, moral, intellectual, or emotional) are in this novella?

  • How does Joseph Conrad reveal character in Heart of Darkness?

  • What elements (if any) in Heart of Darkness appear to be drawn from Joseph Conrad's own life?

  • What are some themes? How do they relate to the plot and characters?

  • What are some symbols in Heart of Darkness? How do they relate to the plot and characters?

  • Is Marlow consistent in his actions? Is he a fully developed character? How? Why? Who is he? How does he relate to other characters?

  • Do you find the characters likable? Would you want to meet the characters?

  • Does the novella end the way you expected? How? Why?

  • What is the central/primary purpose? Is the purpose important or meaningful?

  • How does this novella relate to other works by Joseph Conrad?

  • Is Marlow a strong character?

  • How essential is the setting to the novella? How would Heart of Darkness have been different if it had taken place in another location? In any other time?

  • Why is Heart of Darkness controversial? Why has it been banned?

  • How does Heart of Darkness relate to current society? Is the novella still relevant?

  • Would you recommend this novella to a friend?

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