Short Storyline of Heart of Darkness

The story begins with five men on a boat at the River Thames. Marlow starts telling other companions a story of an experience when he was a captain of a steamship in Africa. He commences on by reflecting on how Britain’s image among Ancient Roman officials must have been akin to Africa’s image among British officials in the nineteenth century. He tells how his aunt used her contacts to secure the job for him.

When he arrives at the job, he encounters different people he dislikes as they appear to be inefficient. They often talk about a man, Mr. Kurtz, who has earned fame in the central Africa as a “remarkable ivory trader”.

Marlow arrives at the Central Station run by the general manager, same like the hair dresser’s dummy. He finds that his steamship has been sunk and stays several months waiting for rivets to repair it. Eventually Marlow gets the parts and he along with a few agents and a crew of cannibals sets out on a long and difficult journey. The dense jungle and the oppressive silence make everyone aboard a little jumpy, and the occasional glimpse of a native village or the sound of drums works the voyagers into a frenzy.

Marlow and his men come upon a hut with stored firewood and a letter indicating that the fuel is for them, but that they should proceed with caution. A dense fog surrounds the steamer shortly after it has taken on the firewood. The ship is attacked by an unseen gang of Indians who fire arrows from the cover of the forest when the fog clears. When they arrive on shore, a Russian trader greets them and assures them that everything is alright. He also informs them that he is the one who left the wood. Kurtz has become a god among the indigenous, and he has conducted ruthless expeditions in the surrounding country in pursuit of ivory.

Marlow and his men take the sick Kurtz onto their ship and sail away. Kurtz has taken up residence in Marlow’s pilothouse, and Marlow quickly realises that Kurtz is every bit as extravagant as he has been depicted. During this moment, Kurtz hands over a stack of papers and a photograph to Marlow for safekeeping; both had seen the manager search through Kurtz’s possessions. Marlow assumes the attractive woman in the photograph is Kurtz’s love interest.

One night Marlow happens upon Kurtz, obviously near death. As Marlow comes closer with a candle, Kurtz seems to experience a moment of clarity and speaks his last words: “The horror! The horror!” Marlow believes this to be Kurtz’s reflection on the events of his life. Marlow does not inform the manager or any of the other voyagers of Kurtz’s death; the news is instead broken by the manager’s child-servant.

Marlow later returns to his home city and is confronted by many people seeking things and ideas of Kurtz. Marlow eventually sees Kurtz’s fiancée about a year later; she is still in mourning. She asks Marlow about Kurtz’s death and Marlow informs her that his last words were her name — rather than, as really happened, “The horror! The horror!”

The story concludes as the scene returns to the trip on the Thames and mentions how it seems as though the boat is drifting into the heart of the darkness.

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