Exploring the Interior:


Essays on Conrad’s Heart of Darkness





“The Journey Within”[1]

a classic essay by the dean of Conrad critics; good general study; takes a psychological approach, but doesn’t adhere to a particular school of psychology


Albert J. Guerard


“Myth and Archetype in Heart of Darkness[2]

views Conrad’s story from the perspective of mythology—more specifically, Joseph Campbell’s theory of mythology; also makes use of the critical theories of Northrop Frye


James Mellard


“Marlow’s Quest”[3]

views Marlow’s journey as a Grail quest, a quest for the self and for freedom


Jerome Thale


“The Narrator As Hero”[4]

compares Conrad’s story to The Great Gatsby; argues that the heroes of the two stories are the narrators, Marlow and Nick Carraway; Marlow and Nick achieve self-knowledge and personal growth by observing other characters, Kurtz and Gatsby; Kurtz and Gatsby are initially impressive, then they’re perceived in a negative way, but finally they’re vindicated, and the narrators come back to their original positive view of Kurtz and Gatsby


Jerome Thale


“Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness:

A Metaphor of Jungian Psychology”[5]

compares Conrad’s journey to Africa with Jung’s journey to Africa; views Conrad’s story in the light of Jung’s theories—more specifically, Jung’s theories of the shadow and the anima; good summary of Jungian ideas


Colleen Burke


“The Journey to Hell:

Satan, The Shadow, and The Self”[6]

focuses on Dante’s journey to hell; views Dante from a Jungian perspective; includes brief discussions of other “journeys to hell”, such as Heart of Darkness, Hesse’s Steppenwulf, Golding’s Lord of the Flies, and two works by Dostoyevsky


Charlotte K. Spivack


“Conrad’s Heart of Darkness:

An Aspect of the Shadow”[7]

a Jungian study; argues that Kurtz is not only a personal shadow by a collective shadow, the shadow of European civilization


Dorsha Hayes



[1] From Conrad the Novelist, by Albert J. Guerard

[2] Tennessee Studies in Literature, 13 (1968): pp. 1-15

[3] University of Toronto Quarterly, XXIV (July, 1955), pp. 351-358

[4] Twentieth-Century Literature, III (July, 1957), pp. 69-73

[5] An online essay, perhaps never published offline, and no longer available online, except on my site

[6] Centennial Review, 9:4 (1965): pp. 420 - 437

[7] Spring: A Journal of Archetype and Culture (Spring, 1956, pp. 43-47)