Light vs. Dark in Heart of Darkness
The realism movement of the late nineteenth century produced works in literature that were marked by reduced sentimentality and increased objectivity. The goal was to let details tell the story, and remove noticeable bias of the author through scientific and detailed descriptions. While this form of storytelling undoubtedly is most accurate, it creates difficulties for authors to incorporate their themes into the story. This resulted in an increase in symbolism in realist works.
Light and Dark in Heart of Darkness
In fictional literature, books are often given creative and catchy titles in lieu of non-ambiguous ones. If one were to take the phrase "heart of darkness" literally, one might find oneself poring over medical journals in a fruitless search to determine what disease causes the heart to take on a grayish or dark hue. One would be completely mistaken, wouldn't one? As it is, Joseph Conrad's phrase "heart of darkness" is a concept representing the contrast of darkness and light in the characters, the mood, the conflicts, and the theme.
An Analysis of Marlow’s Choice in Heart of Darkness
The concepts of light and darkness have become synonymous with good and bad, especially in the realm of literature. Light is associated with Heaven, happiness and hope, while darkness symbolizes Hell, hatred and harm. In Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness however, these general conventions are broken in that light symbolizes a far more menacing evil than any form of darkness. While readers seek to view light in a positive way, Conrad’s progressive use of darker examples of light reflects the inner conflict and confusion of the novel’s protagonist, Marlow, and his continued search for light in the world.
Exposure of the Shadows: An Analysis of Joseph Conrad’s Manipulation of Light and Dark
Beckoning readers closer, the gloomy foreboding of a mysterious darkness has typically been indicative of an antagonist or a horror that is to follow, and the glory of a shining light has signified a positive connotation. The pair is often utilized to express an author’s ideas and theme and Joseph Conrad uses the two paradigms liberally in his interpretation of European colonialism in Heart of Darkness. While Conrad employs the typical binary of light and darkness as positive and negative forces, respectively, he also challenges this notion by exposing the contradictions of misdeeds done in light and the portrayal of darkness as a sanctuary.
The Light and Dark Forces in Heart of Darkness
Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad, explores something truer and more fundamental than a mere personal narrative. It is a night journey into the unconscious and a confrontation within the self. Certain circumstances of Marlow's voyage, when looked at in these terms, have new importance. Marlow insists on the dreamlike quality of his narrative. "It seems to me I am trying to tell you a dream - making a vain attempt, because no relation of a dream can convey the dream - sensation.
(3) Widmer, Kingsley. "Joseph Conrad". Dictionary of Literary Biography, vol. 34. Gale Research Company. Detroit. 1985
Revelations of Dark and Light
In the book, Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad we are introduced to the concept of light and dark as they relate to the people of Africa and the people of Europe. In the beginning of the book the intro gives an insight into the journey that the main character, Marlow, is about to embark on. Conrad symbolically introduces the sun setting on the river as Marlow enters the mouth of the Thames. Conrad reveals this allegory by indicating that Marlow is about to enter a dark place morally, and physically as a reference to the Negro people of Africa.
The Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad, displays the power of humans and nature. Joseph Conrad says, “ My task is by the power of the written word before all, to make you see.” His words display, the contradiction of humanity and their actions through the manipulation of the light and dark forces. The heart of darkness is ambiguity between humans, their malcontent with themselves, and how they bend to natures will.
The Meaning of Heart of Darkness in the Post-Colonial Climate
Since its publication in 1899, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness has rarely been disputed on the basis of its literary merits; in fact, it was long seen as one of the great novels of the burgeoning modern era, a sort of bridge between the values and storytelling styles of the waning Victorian period and those of the modern era (Gatten), and regarded a high-ranking space amidst the great literature of the century, if not the millennia (Mitchell 20). Conrad’s literary masterpiece manages references to other great literature, universal themes which cut to the heart of philosophical questions of the innate goodness or evil of man, and historical references such as the Belgium and Roman empires (Kuchta 160), among other accomplishments, and so has garnered a lexicon all its own in the annals of literary criticism, debate, and analysis.
Much consideration given Heart centers around a pivotal concern of the era in which it was written: that of what, in hindsight, were the early death rattles of the heyday of European colonialism, specifically in Africa. There is some debate amongst critics as to whether the novel, ultimately, is a morality tale about human greed, power, and evil (one could toss in deceit, cowardice, and a host of psychological considerations as well), or more a sociological commentary upon the morality of colonialism and imperialism from the point of view of a highly disillusioned expatriate turned agent for the empire, turned anti-imperialist (the character of Marlow in the novel: Conrad himself, in spite of his best efforts to disguise his input behind characterization) (Films for Humanities and Sciences).
Drawing upon our readings and class discussions, write an essay that focuses on a specific idea or textual effect in any one of the novels we have read (if you wish to reflect on any two novels, you may). Your essay should develop a coherent project that shows your understanding of the issues we have been analysing in class, and makes thoughtful use of the works of literary and cultural theory we have been reading.