Heart of Darkness - Study Guide

Progeny Press

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Grade Range: 9-12

English/Language Arts Credit: 1/4 Credit

Setting: Colonial Congo, 1890

Genre: British Literature, World Literature

Page Count: 41 + Answer Key

Approximate Completion Time: 5-6 weeks

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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 glamor, 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!

Progeny Press' Heart of Darkness English/Language Arts curriculum will provide your High School grade student with:

English/Language Arts credit: This is a one-quarter credit high school level Literature curriculum.
Historical Background:
Journey into and study the history of Zaire and the Congo River Basin, unravel the intricate tapestry of commercial trade interests in the 1800s, daring exploration, the era of Leopold II, and the subsequent exploitation of the region that shaped its destiny, all through literary analysis.
Author Biography: Learn about Joseph Conrad, the mind behind the Heart of Darkness.
Before-You-Read Activities: Engage in a series of preparatory activities, including crafting a mini colonialism research paper, penning an author biography, exploring the world of ships and transportation, mapping the narrative's journeys, and drafting a comparison paper to set the stage for your literary critique and study.
Vocabulary: Enhance your vocabulary through a variety of activities designed to stimulate retention and growth while immersing yourself in the language of the novel.
Literary Techniques: Dive deep into the art of storytelling with an exploration of key literary techniques, such as foreshadowing, allusion, symbolism, death imagery, tone/mood, climactic moments, thematic exploration, conflicts, varied points of view, frame story intricacies, title analysis, pacing dynamics, the power of repetition, and the vivid use of personification.
Moral Lessons and Character Values: Discuss moral lessons and character values throughout your literature analysis. Explore themes of darkness vs. light in scripture, the duality of the human heart and mind, the nature of evil, accountability to others, the art of choosing wise companions, the essence of true belief, reliance on God, contemplation of true faith, the consequences of lying, and the power of self-control.
Activities and Writing Assignments: Participate in a wide array of activities and writing assignments that will compliment and further your literature studies, including character analysis, mapping the journeys of characters, comparative analysis of ideas, constructing a timeline of story events, extracting life lessons from the text, in-depth passage analysis to understand tone, and point of view shifts.
Suggestions for Further Reading: Explore an enticing reading list featuring additional works by Joseph Conrad and books that complement or resonate with the themes of Heart of Darkness. Movie suggestions are also included for a multi-media exploration.

All of Progeny Press' Language Arts unit lessons are written from a Christian worldview!

Features and Benefits of a Progeny Press ELA study guide

 Printed Workbook Format

  • Large 8.5x11 format is convenient to read and easy on tired teenage high school student's eyes
  • Every question in our novel unit study has plenty of whitespace for high school level student’s answers
  • Encourages neat and clean handwriting practice
  • Easily transports without the need for a laptop or other expensive equipment
  • Provides a permanent record of the student’s work
  • Complete, removable answer key included for the teacher to make grading simple!

 CD Format

  • Provides the study guide in universally compatible PDF format (works on Mac AND Windows)
  • No costly software purchases necessary
  • Our PDF Study Guide should be opened with the FREE Adobe Reader program. With the interactive feature, students have the capability of entering their answers directly on the computer and saving their work in progress.
    Note: Mobile Devices/Tablets may require alternative app that supports and saves fillable form fields.
  • Or choose to conveniently print what you need, when you need it:
    • Print the whole ELA PDF guide at once
    • Print single literature lessons or pages as the student completes them
    • Print multiple copies of the entire curriculum study guide for classroom sets
  • PDF format makes it easy to use with multiple students
  • Complete answer key PDF file included for the teacher!

Formatted with your High School grade student in mind, Progeny Press language arts study guides divide the book into writing assignments and lessons that strengthen their reading comprehension, vocabulary, and refines their critical analysis and writing skills. Each Progeny Press novel study accomplishes all of this without busy work that can drain the fun out of reading and literature! Kids have loved using Progeny Press ELA curriculum in homeschool, co-ops, and private schools around the world for over 30 years!

Book Awards:
#158 on the Big Read List (UK’s top 200)   •   Great Books of the Western World   •   
The Great American Read #83 (Top 100)   •   100 Best Novels Written in English #32

Extra Information

Progeny Press
Recommended Grade Level:
Colonial Congo, Africa, 1890
World Literature, Historical Literature
Study Guide Page Count:
47 pages
Study Guide Author:
Bethine Ellie
For the Book By:
Joseph Conrad
Workbook ISBN:

    1 Reviews

  • Posted by Vira G. on 23rd Sep 2015


    Love it, will continue to buy

    Love it, will continue to buy from Progeny Press. Thanks for helping to teach literature a little more easier.