Honours 4th year
20th Century Novel
Heart of Darkness – Joseph Conrad
Heart of Darkness book
Part A : Brief Question with Answers
- Who is Joseph Conrad?
Ans. Joseph Conrad is primarily known as a write of sea stories, one of the leaders of the Modernist movement, with his novels displaying a masterful narrative technique.
- When and where was Joseph Conrad born?
Ans. Joseph Conrad, the son of an exiled polish patriot was born at Berdiczew in 1857. Berdiczew (Beridichev) was a town in the Polish Ukraine, then under the Russian govt.
- What was Conrad’s original name? [NU.2016]
Ans. Conrad’s original name was Teoder Jozef Konrad Korzen-iowski.
- What do you know of Conrad’s parents?
Ans. Conrad’s father, Apollo was arrested by the Russian police on a charge of being a leader in the struggle for polish independence. Along with his wife Evelina and young son (Conrad) Apollo was shipped to the prison camp at Vologda, in northern Russia, for four years of exile.
- How did Conrad’s mother die?
Ans. Camp life was too hard for Evelina, Conrad’s mother, and in 1865, she died of tuberculosis.
- When did Apollo, Conrad’s father die and why?
Ans. Hard life in the prison ruined Apollo’s (Conrad’s father’s) health and he died of tuberculosis in 1869, leaving Jozef (Conrad) under the care of his uncle, Taddeus Bobrowski.
- What do you know of Conrad’s early education?
Ans. Conrad’s guardian and uncle, Teddeus Bobrowski sent him to a school in Cracow but Conrad was dissatisfied with school; it was too regimented, too boring for his passionate, romantic nature.
- When did Conrad leave his native land and why?
Ans. When Conrad was sixteen he left Poland his native land for France to build up his career at sea. He made this decision against the wishes of his guardian and relatives.
- When did Countries did Conrad make his voyages to?
Ans. In 1878 Conrad first set foot on English soil with an intention to become a British sailor. In the same year he entered the British Marchant Navy, where he remained for the next sixteen years, rising to the position of Master Mariner.
Heart of Darkness book
- Which countries did Conrad make his voyages to?
Ans. Conrad made several voyages to the far Eastern waters notably Singapore, Borneo, the Gulf of Siam, Australia, the Belgian, Congo, Bombay and the East Indies, which provided him with rich material for his stories.
- How was Conrad drawn to English Language?
Ans. Conrad did not know English before his twenty-first year. When he joined a British ship, he was inspired to learn English through reading all sorts of books. He was drawn to English by its flexibility and abundant synonyms, by the haunting magic of its rhythms.
- When did Conrad become a British citizen?
Ans. Joseph Conrad became a naturalized Briton in 1886.
- when did Conrad settle in England?
Ans. In 1894 Joseph Conrad finally left the sea and settled in Essex in the south of England.
- Whom and when did Conrad marry?
Ans. Joseph Conrad married Jessie George in 1896.
- Name some important works of Joseph Conrad.
Ans. Almayer’s Folly, An Outcast of the islands, The Nigger of the Narcissus, Lord Jim, Nostromo, The Secret Agent, Victory, Heart of Darkness are some of Conrad’s remarkable creations in the word of English fiction.
- How many novels in your syllabus deal with the theme of imperialism? What are those? [NU.2014]
Ans. Three novels in our syllabus deal with the theme of imperialism. They are Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, A passage to India by E.M Forster and The Grass is Singing by Doris Lessing.
- What is imperialism? [NU.2014]
Ans. Imperialism is a system in which a country rules other countries, sometimes having used force to obtain power over them, especially in political and economic matters.
- How is the story of Heart of Darkness introduced to the readers?
Ans. The story of Heart of Darkness is introduced to the readers by two narrators who speak in the first person.
- How is the function of the first narrator in Heart of Darkness?
Ans. The first narrator, who is unnamed, lays the suitable foundation for the second narrator, or Marlow who takes up the story. He also says about the four persons on board the Nellie, a cruising yawl.
Heart of Darkness book
- What is Conrad’s purpose in crating the characters of the two narrators?
Ans. Instead of speaking in the person, Conrad distances himself from the readers by inventing a fictitious character having the name of Charles Marlow who narrates the story of Heart of Darkness. And them Marlow too, is distanced from the readers by introducing another nameless narrator who is a friend of Marlow.
- Why does Conrad distance himself from the readers?
Ans. Conrad’s purpose in distancing himself from the readers is to impart objectivity to the novel, Heart of Darkness.
- How many persons are there one board the Nellie?
Ans. There are five persons on board, the Nellie-the Director of companies (captain and host) , the Lawyer, the Accountant, Charles Marlow (the main narrator), and the first narrator (un-named) who is the friend of Marlow.
- What is ‘The Nellie’?[NU,2016]
Ans. ‘The Nellie’ is the name of a cruising yawl, swung to her anchor on the bank of the Themes. It is waiting for the turn of the tide to set sail. The story of Heart of Darkness is told by Marlow and his friend (first narrator) to the persons on board the ship.
- In what sense is Marlow different from other seamen?
Ans. Among the persons on board, the Nellie, Marlow is the only man who is a sea-farer in the truest sense. Besides being a seaman, he is also a wanderer unlike other seamen.
- What is Marlow’s soliloquy about before he begins his narration to the persons on the deck of the yawl?
Ans. Marlow takes the cue from the first narrator’s recounting of great knight errantry of Elizabethan exploration. His subsequent remark introduces a soliloquy on the Roman conquest of the British Isles nineteen hundred years ago.
- Why does Marlow narrate his experience as a sailor to his companions?
Ans. It is with a good intention to spend the time that Marlow narrates his experience to his companions, since they cannot move till the ebb tide begins to run.
- In what posture does Marlow sit on the deck to tell his tale?
Ans. Marlow sits on the deck of the yawl, cross-legged right aft, leaving against the mizzen-mast. He assumes the posture of the idol of Buddha, preaching in European clothes without a lotus flower.
- How does Marlow secure a job as the skipper of a river steamboat?
Ans. Marlow secures a job of the skipper of a river steamboat in the Congo region, belonging to the Belgian Trading Company as the vacancy is created when its captain is killed by a native. His aunt helps him in getting the job.
- What object did the Belgian Trading Company collect in Congo? [NU.2014]
Ans. The Belgian Trading Company collected ivory in Congo.
Heart of Darkness book
- Whom does Marlow meet first at the company’s headquarters?
Ans. Marlow meets first at the company’s headquarters in Brussels two women at the reception, one fat and the other slim. He finds them knitting black wool sitting on straw-bottomed chairs
- What do the knitting women signify to Marlow?
Ans. The two knitting women appear to Marlow as Sin and Death guarding the “Gates of Hell,” similar to what we find in ‘Paradise Lost’.
- Do you find any parallel to Marlow’s journey to the heart of darkness?
Ans. We can find parallels to Marlow’s journey to the heart of darkness to the journeys described in Virgil’s Aeneid and Dante’s Inferno.
- What, according to Marlow, does the knitting of black wool by the two women suggest?
Ans. According to Marlow, the knitting of black wool by the two women at the company’s headquarters, refers to the woolly heads of the Negroes and their calculated exploitation. The women represent fates or black powers deciding human destiny.
- How does Marlow’s voyage become an exposure to the colonial system?
Ans. The reference to the Roman colonization in Britain sets the pattern for Marlow’s story. The voyage enables him to see the workings of the modern colonial system based on the principle, ‘might is right’
- What is Marlow’s impression about the European colonizations?
Ans. While going to join his assignment in the Congo region, Marlow can see from the deck of a French steamer and visualize an endless string of French settlements, European powers both great and small extended this colonial system like the tentacles of an octopus in the second half of the nineteenth century.
- What is Marlow’s attitude to colonization?
Ans. Marlow denounces colonization as robbery with violence, aggravating murder of the innocents on a great scale.
- What is the meaning of “whited sepulchre”?
Ans. While Marlow arrives at Company’s headquarters in Brussels, he regards the city as a “whited sepulchre.” This means the place is outwardly very pleasant and religious but actually it is disgusting and corrupt.
- How does Marlow feel during his voyage in a French steamer?
Ans. The slow movement of the French steamer bores Marlow who feels depressed because of inactivity, isolation, monotony and absence of contact with fellow passengers. He is also able to feel the gap between the lofty ideals and practical realities.
- What incidents during Marlow’s journey do reveal to him the brutality of colonial system?
Ans. The incident of a French man-of-war shelling and firing into the continent from her offshore anchorage, useless blasting of rocks by gunpowder, the sight of the native dying of disease or by hunger, the sight of the six natives chained to one another, and with iron collars around their necks, etc.
Part B : Short Questions
- What is the significance of the Prologue in Heart of Darkness?
- What is the symbolic significance (or implied meaning) of the imagery of light and darkness in the prologue?
- What is the underlying motive of Marlow’s Buddha postures?
- Comment on the setting of the novel, Heart of Darkness.[NU.2015]
- What is the underlying meaning of “Whited Sepulcher”?
What is the symbolic significance of “Whited Sepulcher” in Heart of Darkness?
- What do the two knitting women at Company’s office in Brussels signify?
- Discuss the symbolic significance of the setting in Heart of Darkness.
- How many female characters do you find in Heart of Darkness and what symbols do they bear?
- Who are “Faithless Pilgrims” and what do they represent?
What do you know about the pilgrim in Heart of Darkness? [NU.2014]
- What impression do you form of the Chief Accountant at the Company’s Station in Heart of Darkness?
- What do you know about the manager of the Central Station in Heart of Darkness?
Write a short note on Manager of the Central Station.
- Give a pen-picture of the Brickmaker in Heart of Darkness.
- What impression about Intended do you have from your reading of Heart of Darkness?
White a short note on Kurtz’s Intended.[ NU. 2015]
- What is Marlow’s estimate of the cannibal crew in Heart of Darkness?
- What does “Ivory” symbolize in Heart of Darkness?
- Write a short note on the theme of “Hollow Men” in Heart of Darkness? [NU.2016]
- What do you know about Kurtz?[NU.2013]
- Comment on the significance of the title Heart of Darkness?
- What does the word ‘horror’ signify in the novel Heart of Darkness? [NU.2013]
- Write a short note on Inner Station. [NU.2007]
Heart of Darkness book
- “The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly fatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much. What redeems it is the idea only”.
- “They wandered here and there with their absurd long staves in their hands, like a lot of faithless pilgrims bewitched inside a rotten fence.”
- “Then I noticed a small sketch in oils, on a panel, representing a woman, draped and blindfolded, carrying a lighted torch. The background was sombre-almost black”.[NU.2006]
- “To tear treasure out of the bowels of the land was their desire, with no more moral purpose at the safe.” [DU.1993, NU.2012]
- “Going up that river was like travelling back to the earliest beginnings of the world, when vegetation rioted on the earth and the big trees were kings.” [DU.1995]
- “We penetrated deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness.”
“We were wanderers on a prehistoric earth, on an earth that wore the aspect of an unknown planet.”
- “And I saw that something restraining, one of those human secrets that battle probability, had come into play there. I looked at them with a swift quickening of interest-not because it occurred to me I might be eaten by them before very long.
“I looked at them as you would on any human being, with a curiosity of their impulses, motives, capacities, weaknesses, when brought to the test of an inexorable physical necessity”.
“No fear can stand up to hunger, on patience can wear it out, disgust simply does not exist where hunger is”.
It’s really easier to face bereavement, dishonour, and the perdition of one’s soul than this kind of prolonged hunger”.
- “My Intended my ivory, my station, my river, my’- everything belonged to him.
“The thing was to know what he belonged to, how many powers of darkness claimed him for their own”
- “She walked with measured steps, draped in striped and fringed cloths, treading the earth proudly, with a slight jingle and flash of barbarous ornaments”.
Her face had a tragic and fierce aspect of wild sorrow and of dumb pain mingled with the fear of some struggling, half-shaped resolve”.
- “His was an impenetrable darkness. I looked at him as you peer down at a man who is lying at the bottom of a precipice where the sun never shines”.
- “I saw on that ivory face the expression of sombre pride, of ruthless power, of craven terror-of an intense and hopeless despair.”
- “I had a vision of him on the stretcher, opening his mouth voraciously, as if to devour all the earth with all its mankind”.
- “And the girl talked easing her pain in the glitter of her eyes, full of tears-of tears that would not fall.”
- “The last word he pronounced was-your name”.
“It seemed to me that the house would collapse before could escape, that the heavens would fall upon my head.”
- “Marlow ceased, and sat apart, indistinct and silent in the pose of a meditating Buddha.”
- “It echoed loudly within him because he was hollow at the core”.
Heart of Darkness book
- Charles Marlow
- The Frist Narrator
- The Nellie
- The Aunt / Marlow’s Aunt
- The Doctor at Company’s Headquarters
- Manager’s Uncle
- The Wrecked Steamer
- The Faithless Pilgrims
- The Brickmaker
- The Russian Seaman
- The Cannibal Crew
- The Native Woman
- The Helmsman
- The Natives of the Congo
- The Congo River
Part C : Broad Question
Heart of Darkness book
- In what way is Heart of Darkness an account of Marlow’s journey into the sub-conscious state of his mind?
‘Heart of Darkness is Marlow’s exploration of his own mind as much as his exploration of the Congo’. Discuss.
- Discuss the significance of the title Heart of Darkness.
How does Conrad explore the different shades of meaning of ‘Darkness’ in Heart of Darkness?
- How does Conrad treat the theme of imperialism in Heart of Darkness?
How does Conrad tread the theme of colonial exploitation in Heart of Darkness?
- Discuss the art of narration/narrative technique in Heart of Darkness.
Comment on Conrad’s narrative technique in Heart of Darkness.
Discuss the role of Marlow as a narrator.
- To what extent does Conrad appear as a pessimist and cynical in Heart of Darkness?
- Discuss Conrad’s art of characterization in Heart of Darkness.
- Discuss the theme of isolation in Heart of Darkness.
- Discuss the theme of self-restraint in Heart of Darkness.
How far is it correct to say that self-restraint is a major theme in Heart of Darkness?
- Analyse Conrad’s use of symbols in Heart of Darkness.
Comment on symbolism in Heart of Darkness.
- Bring out the full significance of the last words of Kurtz: ‘The horror! The horror! in Heart of Darkness.
Heart of Darkness book
Comment on Conrad’s treatment of evil in Heart of Darkness.
- Write on the character and role of Marlow in Heart of Darkness.
What estimate of the character of Marlow have you formed from your reading of Heart of Darkness?
- Who is the principal character-Marlow or Kurtz in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Explain your view.
In What sense is Mr. Kurtz regarded as the central figure in the novel Heart of Darkness?
What estimate of the character of Mr. Kurtz do you form from your reading of Heart of Darkness?
- Comment on the use of irony and satire in Heart of Darkness.
How does Conrad satirize the evil of imperialism in Heart of Darkness?
- Does Conrad provide any moral vision in Heart of Darkness? Discuss.
Or, Do you notice any moral vision in Heart of Darkness? Discuss.
- Both Conrad and Forster deal with British colonialism in their novels Heart of Darkness and A Passage to India. How do they differ in their treatment of the natives?
“Conrad and E.M. Forster deal with British Colonialism in their novel”- Discuss.
- Compare the journey of Mrs. Moore to India with Marlow’s journey to Congo.
- Critically comment on Conrad’s handing of racism in Heart of Darkness.
Heart of Darkness – এই বিষয় সর্ম্পকে কোন প্রশ্ন থাকলে কিংবা মার্স্টাস শেষ র্পব ও রাষ্ট্রবিজ্ঞান বিভাগ সর্ম্পকে যেকোন প্রশ্ন থাকলে কমেন্ট করতে পারেন।