Symbolism Of Light And Darkness In The Heart Of Darkness By Joseph Conrad

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The novel, The Heart of Darkness, is written by Joseph Conrad. Throughout the story he puts many literary devices to use. The most apparent method he used was the symbolism of light and darkness. Marlow, the narrator, throughout the story makes the Europeans which are white, equivalent to the light in the world, while he makes the Africans, whom are black, equivalent to the darkness in the world. As Marlow proceeds further into the Inner Station, the darkness and lightness symbols mix with meanings that make them contradictory to what they normally mean. In this novel, the author twists the common understanding of symbols of light and darkness into being something that they typically are not. Belgium had the most colonial control over the…show more content…
“Serve him right. Transgression-punishment-bang! Pitiless, pitiless. That’s the only way’ said the indefatigable man with the moustaches” (Conrad). Conrad highlights in his novel the fact that the natives are simply a chess piece in the “project of civilization.” The diction used in the novel builds up towards Marlow’s meeting with Kurtz. Kurtz is categorized as a significant first-class agent who has a reputation of being a wonderful humanitarian. As Watt states “Kurtz was presumably representing colonialism as enlightenment through the two values with which the symbol of a lighted torch is conventionally associated – education and hope for the future” (Watt). On the other hand, Kurtz has turned out to be merciless and acquisitive. Talking about him, Marlow says, “He begins with his argument that ‘we whites, from the point of development we had arrived at, must necessarily appear to them savages in the nature of supernatural beings - we approach them with the might as of a deity.’” (Conrad). Although, Kurtz’s presumed desire to “civilize” the natives is shockingly reverted by his afterthought, “Exterminate all the Brutes” (Conrad). Differing with the light and white symbols, Africa and the Congo are symbols of darkness and despair. From the perspective of the white European people, and from the perspective of most readers, the Congo…show more content…
Directly after Marlow discovers Kurtz’ activities in the jungle, he immediately blames it on his loss of connection with society. Marlow holds the darkness and peculiar forces of the jungle accountable for Kurtz activities. This far into the story, Marlow views the savages as a weakness for having escaped nature. “Never, never before, did this land, this river, this jungle, the very arch of this blazing sky, appear to me so hopeless and so dark, so impenetrable to human thought, so pitiless to human weakness” (Conrad). At last, Marlow comes to his senses and realizes that there was nothing to blame Kurtz madness on but Kurtz himself. In contrast to the previous statement, “all Europe contributed to the making of Kurtz” (Conrad). Kurtz is engaged, but the engagement has been forbidden by the ladies’ family because Kurtz’ pockets are not fat enough, so to speak. Slowly enough, Marlow begins to see that Kurtz’ insanity and madness is simply a reflection of the evil in humanity around him. Staying in Africa provides Kurtz with a twisted sense of freedom, freeing him from what is and what is not socially acceptable. Talking about Kurtz, Marlow states, “For the wilderness had patted him on the head, and behold, it was like a ball- an ivory ball; it had caressed him, and he had withered; it had taken him, loved him, embraced him, got into his veins, consumed

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