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Portrayal of Light and Darkness through Characters in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness

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In the novella Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad uses many literary devices to create, for his readers, a vivid picture of what his definition of light and darkness really is.
Conrad suggestively uses a technique whereas for every one character that portrays darkness there is an opposite character that portrays some extent of light. This technique can be explained in the form of comparison and contrast, for instance the “Harlequin” and the Manager. Though these two characters share few comparisons, their contrasts are one in a plenty. The Harlequins character is said to be a Russian man who has an eccentric taste in fashion, coining him the nickname Harlequin. He is also considered the character Kurtz’s “disciple”, because as a young boy the harlequin had run away from home, in which later landed him deep into the Congo, where Kurtz had soon taken him under his wing and molded him. “Kurtz has enlarged my mind” which is his catch phrase meaning that Kurtz had given him knowledge and taught him to think outside of the box. The Harlequin represents inferred light in the story. Though, there are no discussions of “good deeds” he performs, like some of the other characters, he illustrates innocence and purity.
On the other hand, the Manager is none of these things. The way Conrad makes him out to be is, in a nutshell, fake. He is described as a man who is vague in his actions, and provides no emotions behind his words. He also has beady blue eyes and a vacuous smile that is said to be "seal applied on words to make the meaning of the commonest phrase appear absolutely inscrutable.” In other words, all his malarkey is made to appear philosophical by his enigmatic, but blank, smile. Conrad even goes on to insist that the Manager is li...


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...e. He criticizes Kurtz scheme of gaining ivory by saying that he had “ruined the district” with his “unsound methods”. He also criticizes the job that he does at the Central Station, saying “Kurtz has done more harm than good to the Company”. Even though he too was not an honest man, he took the liberty to judge Kurtz.
The purpose the two of these characters serve to emphasize the defining qualities of Kurtz is that Conrad uses them, in a since, as a form of light and truth, though, not in a since of purity and righteousness, but as way of clarification. These two characters, for a better half of the novella, were the only ones who really knew the man behind the glory. Because Kurtz worked for the Manager at the Central Station, and the Harlequin was his protégé, they had personal relationships with him. They knew of all the horrid deeds that this man had done.


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