The short story tells about colonialism, racism and the savagery of a civilized person in primitive conditions. The protagonist of the story, British sailor Charles Marlow, works for a Belgian ivory company on the Congo River. During his journey, he learns about Kurtz, the head of one of the ivory mining stations. “Heart of Darkness” became a popular work, published in many languages in various forms. In 1998, “Heart of Darkness” was ranked 67th in a ranking compiled by the editors of the Modern Library.
The Heart of Darkness was first published in 3 parts in February, March and April 1899 in Blackwood’s Magazine. In 1902, the novella was published in Youth: a Narrative, and Two Other Stories. According to Konrad, “Heart of Darkness” is the story of a journalist who became the head of an African station and forced a tribe of savages to worship him. Three stories, “Youth: a Narrative”, “Heart of Darkness” and “The End of the Tether”, told of three periods in Marlowe’s life.
Charles Marlow tells the sailors about the events of his life when he was the captain of a steamship owned by an ivory mining company. Upon arriving at the company’s station, Marlowe finds it desolated: unorganized work, occasional senseless explosions, emaciated black people working to death at gunpoint by an armed white company employee. He first learns about Kurtz, who, according to the station employee, is an excellent worker.
Marlow, along with the caravan, follows to the central station, where he learns that his ship was shipwrecked 2 days before his arrival. The stationmaster informs that it is necessary to go up the river, since, according to rumors, the head of an important station, Mr. Kurtz, is ill. While traveling upriver, the ship is attacked by natives, the helmsman is killed by their weapons. For a while, Marlow mistakenly believes that Kurtz is dead.
After arriving at the station, Marlow learns about Kurtz’s actions, that the natives worship him, and that Kurtz has been seriously ill lately. Marlow observes severed heads hung on sticks near the house as a deterrent and suggests that he may have gone insane. One of the locals, a Russian, reports that Kurtz ordered the ship to be attacked so that the arrivals would think that he was dead. Marlowe’s men deliver Kurtz to the steamer. During the return journey, he tries to escape, but Marlowe finds him and returns him to the steamer.
On the way back, Kurtz dies of illness, having handed over several documents to Marlowe before his death. His last words: “Horror! Horror!”. Marlow returns to Europe, delivers Kurtz’s report on the eradication of Aboriginal customs to an unnamed official, letters for relatives to his relative. Finally, he hands over the remaining letters and photograph to Kurtz’s fiancée.