Heart of Darkness commences on a British ship, Nellie anchored on the coast of river
Thames. It revolves around a seaman, Charlie Marlow who from the start is telling about
his journey in his youth.
Marlow is travelling in Thames with Director of the Company who was also their captain,
Lawyer, Accountant and the author of the book. Marlow from his youth was fascinated by
exploration and maps. He always yearned to become an explorer. Soon after his return
from the Pacific he tried to get himself involved in another journey and set his mind to
join ‘The Company’. He asked his aunt for help to become a Captain on steamboat and
she somehow managed to get Marlow an appointment. Soon he replaced a captain who
recently died in skirmish with the natives.
In no time Marlow was in the Company’s headquarters signing his contract where he was
asked to sign a number of papers and visiting doctor. Marlow soon hopped on to the
French steamer with Swede captain and on the boat he told him a story about a man who
hanged himself. It took him 30 days to reach the Outer Company Station where he
realised that natives are kept as slaves and saw the discrimination against them.
Marlow spent the next 10 days in the Company’s OuterStation where he meets the
Company’s Chief Accountant who tells hims of “Mr. Kurtz”, who is incharge of a lucrative
ivory-post. The Accountant described Kurtz as a ‘remarkable person’ and ‘first class
As soon as he arrived to Central Station he received the news that his steamer was at the
bottom of the river and the bottom of the boat had been torn off. He meets the manager
of the station thereafter. Marlow quickly inferred from the condition of the station that the
Central Manager was no genius discernible talent with the exception that he had never
been sick and told Marlow how critical the situation with Mr. Kurtz was. During repairing
of the steamboat, a band ‘the Eldorado Exploring Expedition, whose leader was the uncle
of manager came to the station.
One evening, while restoration of steamboat was under progress, Marlow was
lying on his deck when he overheard the manager and his uncle saying that they would
like to see Kurtz and his assistant hanged. Marlow realised the reason for their plotting
against Kurtz was competition and getting higher up in chain of The Company.
Soon after ‘Eldorado Expedition’ left on its exploration. Steamboat was all set to float
again on the river and within no time with crew, Manager and Pilgrims, Marlow set out for
his journey to the Inner Station. Marlow soon began to describe his weird crew, the
fireman, who ignites fire instead of putting them out and the cannibals who are carrying
rotten hippo meat. Some fifty miles below the inner station they came across a hut of
reeds with piece of board lying with firewood ‘Wood for you. Hurry up. Approach
cautiously’ which resembled a cipher. From the hut Marlow retrieved a book.
About eight miles before ‘Kurtz’s station’ they pauses for the night. In the morning thick
fog captured the ship from further movement and with fog came loud shouting of the
native which frightened the crew to their soul. And as soon as the fog lifted the native
fired arrows to the steamboat and one of the spear strikes the Helmsman who falls to
death at Marlow’s feet. After the end of the combat between the two parties Marlow
decided to throw the corpse of the Helmsman overboard so that cannibal would not get
hand on him. Just when all the hope was lost steamboat reached its destination and was
greeted by a young man who was waving his arms, with bright patches all over his
clothes. The young man was a Russian wanderer who strayed into Kurtz’s camp and later
while talking Marlow discovers that he was the one who left the wood and the note at the
abandoned hut. Through his conversation with the Russian he comes to know how Kurtz
has established himself as a God with the natives and gone on raids in surrounding
territory in search of ivory.