Heart of Darkness - Study Guide
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In this classic short novel, Charles Marlow is a young man desiring adventure in exotic lands. With the help of an influential aunt, Marlow is assigned to be captain of a Belgian trading company's steamer in the Congo Free State (modern-day Zaire) of Africa. As he prepares to journey up the Congo River to the company's inner station, he hears tales about the station's manager, Mr. Kurtz, an ivory trader who has amazing power over the natives of the region.
Determined to meet this man, Marlow begins his journey. Instead of excitement and glamour, Marlow finds horror, and far up river, he encounters the mysterious Kurtz. Here, he sees what can happen when a man believes himself no longer accountable to society or God.
Content Warning: This title is recommended for mature readers!
Through Joseph Conrad’s gripping short novel, Heart of Darkness, students will learn:
Historical Background: The history of Zaire and the Congo River Basin, commercial trade interests in the region in the 1800s, exploration, Leopold II and the subsequent exploitation of the area.
Author Biography: Learn about Joseph Conrad.
Before-You-Read Activities: Mini colonialism research paper, write an author biography, write about ships and transportation, mapping, comparison mini paper.
Vocabulary words used throughout the novel, utilizing a variety of activities to stimulate retention and growth.
Literary Techniques: foreshadowing, allusion, symbolism, death imagery, tone/mood, climax, theme, conflict, point of view, frame story, title analysis, pacing, repetition, lists, personification.
Moral Lessons and Character Values: darkness vs. light in scripture, heart and mind of man, evil, accountability to others, choosing wise companions, true belief, relying on God, consider what true faith is, lying, self-control,
Activities and Writing Assignments including character analysis, mapping journeys, compare/contrast ideas, time line story events, life lessons, passage analysis of tone, point of view change.
Suggestions for Further Reading: We include an in-depth reading list of more books by the same author(s) and other books that tie in with, or are similar to, Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.Movie suggestions included.
All of the unit lessons are written from a Christian worldview!