"Heart of Darkness" is a novella by Joseph Conrad, published in 1903. The story centres on Charles Marlow, who narrates most of the book. He is an Englishman who takes a foreign assignment from a Belgian trading company as a river-boat captain in Africa. Marlow is employed to transport ivory downriver. However, his more pressing assignment is to return Kurtz, another ivory trader, to civilization, in a cover-up.
Marlow recounts his Congolese adventure to a group of men aboard a ship anchored in the Thames Estuary from dusk through to late night. The passage of time and the darkening sky during Marlow's narrative parallels the atmosphere of the events he narrates.
"Heart of Darkness" exposes the dark side of European colonization while exploring the three levels of darkness that the protagonist, Marlow, encounters: the darkness of the Congo wilderness, the darkness of the Europeans' cruel treatment of the African natives, and the unfathomable darkness within every human being for committing heinous acts of evil.