|Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness presents a story-within-a-story, creating a central narrator, Marlow, who tells an audience of four a tale about Kurtz, an agent for a Colonial enterprise in the Belgian Congo. Marlow recounts the tale at the outset of a voyage; he has a seaman's "propensity to spin yarns," but the story is told not to amuse his shipmates--it is told to make them think about significant political, spiritual, and moral issues (Conrad 9). The unidentified first narrator wants to hear about Marlow's own adventure, but Marlow recounts instead the fate of Kurtz, and how Marlow's own journey into the Congo became a quest to understand the workings of Kurtz' mind (Conrad 11).
Marlow, deeply attracted to the notion of exploring Africa, signs up to pilot a steam boat up the Kissai River, taking the place of a murdered company agent. Marlow's narrative is a story