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How to handle the Heart of Darkness Essay Questions?

Heart of darkness is a novella written by Joseph Conrad with major themes of alienation, loneliness, silence and solitude. As they are considered to be the major themes of story “Heart of Darkness”; thus, students are being asked to analyze the questions related to preceding themes for their heart of darkness essays. It’s never easy for students to handle critical questions of the story.

Here are some critical questions from the novella “Heart of Darkness” with a guideline that would help students on how to handle heart of darkness essay question:

Q1. How does the removal of all restraints in solitude bring out a man’s true nature?


  • The question clearly indicates the theme “Solitude”, so, you should make your first point regarding solitude.
  • You should mention why Kurtz is considered to be the demigod.
  • Utilize the last words of Kurtz: The Horror! The Horror!
  •  You can reveal your answer on how removal of all restraints brings out the true nature of a man by using the preceding 3 in combination.

Q2. Find examples of futility of the European presence in the Congo and discuss what Conrad seems to be suggesting in each instance.


  • You should find out quotes from the novella that relates to futility and cruelty of the Europeans.
  • An ideal quote that you may use would be: “The work was going on. The work! And this was the place where some of the helpers had withdrawn to die”.   
  • European invasion following the theme of imperialism is another point that would further exemplify the preceding essay question.

Q3. Why does Heart of Darkness have two competing heroes? Make the case for either Marlow or Kurtz as the true “hero” of the book.


  • First of all, you should decide yourself: Who would you like to be the most appropriate choice of a hero? Suppose, you choose Charles Marlow.
  • You should explain the characteristics of Marlow that dominates his character over Kurtz in terms of mentality.
  • In this compare and contrast heart of darkness essay question, you should also mention a few deeds done by him in terms of compassion for others.

Therefore, the first thing you need to do is to find out the theme concealed in heart of darkness essay question; then, you should search for quotes from novella related to your question. Eventually, you would find out the required answer of your heart of darkness essays question.


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