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Free Study Guide for Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad-BookNotes/Summary
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KEY LITERARY ELEMENTS

SETTING

The novel has two separate settings. One, the frame narrative, is the setting for the telling of the tale on a cruising yawl (sailing vessel) or yacht on the Thames River near London, England. The second setting is that of the actual tale. In it, the protagonist travels to Brussels, the capital city of Belgium and home to the ivory company. Then to the Belgium Congo in Africa, with its dark, snaking, and mysterious river (in contrast to the tranquil Thames), and then back to Brussels.

LIST OF CHARACTERS

Major Characters

Charlie Marlow

An English seaman with a philosophical cast of mind, who is the protagonist of the novel, idealistically in search of finding some good in the European imperialism in Africa.

Kurtz

A European, half English, half French, who works for the ivory company at the Inner Station on the Congo, and who espouses the idealism of imperialism and the pure side of the European presence in Africa, but whose actions do not live up to his philosophies.


The Manager

An Englishman who runs the Central Station on the Congo for the ivory company and who is the personification of the greed and evil of European imperialism in Africa.

Minor Characters

Director of Companies

A nameless captain on board the Nellie, one of Marlow's listeners.

Lawyer

A nameless man on board Nellie, one of Marlow's listeners

Accountant

A nameless man on board Nellie, one of Marlow's listeners

Unnamed Narrator

A nameless man on board the Nellie, one of Marlow's listeners, who is repeating Marlow's tale

Chief Accountant

An Englishman who lives on the Congo at the Outer Station

The Russian

A man who appears to be a sort of disciple for Kurtz, who greets Marlow at the Inner Station

The Intended

Kurtz's fiancée, who Marlow visits in Brussels at the end of the novel.

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Free Study Guide-Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad-Free Plot Synopsis
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