In the book, Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, all the characters are pulled into a well of black despair. Conrad uses the darkness of the situation contrasted to the light of society to show man’s dependence on western morals, and how when these morals are challenged by the darkness, the light crumbles under its newly weakened foundation. The contrast between light and dark is most stark in the themes of setting, the changes in Europeans as they drive farther into the Congo, and the white man’s collapse under the ultimate darkness of the Innermost Congo.
The setting of Heart of Darkness is a very critical part of the book, and Conrad goes to extreme lengths to highlight the evil radiating from the region in which he sets his book. First, the tale is told in a frame story pattern, Marlow is relating his experience to friends in a setting different from that of the primary tale. But the setting where Marlow tells his tale is a foreshadow of what is to come. Marlow presents his story on a boat in the dark of night, creating a sense of evil surrounding the story. The darkness is so deep where Marlow rests during the telling of his tale, that he cannot see his friends, and instead tells the story to the darkness itself. Once the narrative begins, Conrad quickly places his character in another situation which only foretells of the place to which he is going. Within a Belgian office, Marlow examines a map of the area into which he is traveling, he describes it,
"...on one end a large shining map, marked with all the colours of a rainbow. There was a vast amount of red-good to see at any time, because one knows that some real work is done in there, a deuce of a lot of blue, a little green, smears of orange, and, on the...
... middle of paper ...
...s us human, but we must always understand that it is only a mask, and not the truth, because one day everyone will be faced with the darkness of the true nature of our world, and we will stare into the heart of the darkness, and it will break us, as it did to Kurtz, or enlighten us, as it did to Marlow.
Works Cited and Consulted
Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. New Jersey: The Ecco Press, 1992.
Guerard, Albert J. Conrad the Novelist. Cambridge, MA.: Harvard U. Press, 1958.
Guerard, Albert J. "Heart of Darkness". TCLC. 13:114.
Karl, Fredrick R. "Heart of Darkness". TCLC. 6:121.
Kimbrough, Robert, ed. Heart of Darkness: An Authoritative Text, Backgrounds and Sources, Criticism. By Joseph Conrad. 3rd ed.
Norton Critical Edition. New York: Norton, 1988.
Meyers, Jeffrey. Joseph Conrad. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1991.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Light and Dark Imagery in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad is a novel about a man named Marlow and his journey into the depths of the African Congo. Marlow is in search of a man named Kurtz, an ivory trader. Though Marlow?s physical journey seems rather simple, it takes him further into his own heart and soul than into the Congo. The setting, symbols and characters each contain light and dark images, these images shape the central theme of the novel.... [tags: Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad]
588 words (1.7 pages)
- Throughout his narrative in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, Charlie Marlow characterizes events, ideas, and locations that he encounters in terms of light or darkness. Embedded in Marlow's parlance is an ongoing metaphor equating light with knowledge and civility and darkness with mystery and savagery. When he begins his narrative, Marlow equates light and, therefore, civility, with reality, believing it to be a tangible expression of man's natural state. Similarly, Marlow uses darkness to depict savagery as a vice having absconded with nature.... [tags: Heart of Darkness Essays]
1946 words (5.6 pages)
- Light and Dark in Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness is a tragic tale of the white man's journey into the African jungle. When we peel away the layers, however, a different journey is revealed - we venture into the soul of man, complete with the darkness of depravity as well as the wonderful. In this essence Conrad uses this theme of light and darkness to contrast the civilized European world with the savage African world in Heart of Darkness. As aforementioned, within Heart of Darkness, Conrad uses light and dark to symbolize good and evil, respectively.... [tags: Heart Darkness essays]
850 words (2.4 pages)
- Light and Dark in Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad's repeated use of darkness in his novel Heart of Darkness has been widely interpreted. Readers have arrived at many different conclusions about the use of darkness throughout the novel. The critics themselves cannot agree what the darkness means. The critics draw different conclusions about the use of darkness. For some critics, the use of darkness is seen as an intentional literary device. For example, Gary Adelman and Michael Levenson discuss the use of darkness and comment upon Conrad's purpose.... [tags: Heart Darkness essays]
2293 words (6.6 pages)
- Light and Dark in Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad's novel, Heart of Darkness, was written to explore the soul of man. If the book is viewed only superficially, a tragic story of the African jungle is seen, but when examined closely, a deeper meaning arises. Through his narrator Marlow, Conrad uses the theme of light and dark to contrast the civilized with the savage. Through the individual characters, Conrad creates the division between dark and light and black and white created by colonialism.... [tags: Heart Darkness essays]
1734 words (5 pages)
- 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." Even before leaving Brussels, Marlow felt as though he "was about to set off for center of the earth," not the center of a continent.... [tags: Heart Darkness essays]
1681 words (4.8 pages)
- Light and Dark in Heart of Darkness Every story has a plot, but not every story has a deeper meaning. When viewed superficially, Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness is a tragic tale of the white man's journey into the African jungle. When we peel away the layers, however, a different journey is revealed - we venture into the soul of man, complete with the warts as well as the wonderful. Conrad uses this theme of light and darkness to contrast the civilized European world with the savage African world in Heart of Darkness.... [tags: Heart Darkness essays]
731 words (2.1 pages)
- 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. The first example of the contrasting light and darkness in the novella is to be found in the main ch... [tags: Heart of Darkness Essays]
1967 words (5.6 pages)
- The Light and Dark of Colonialism Exposed in Heart of Darkness In Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad, challenges a dominant view by exposing the evil nature and the darkness associated with the colonialist ventures. It is expressed by Marlow as "robbery with violence, aggravated murder on a great scale, and men going at it blind - as it is very proper for those who tackle a darkness." The European colonialists are portrayed as blind lightbearers, people having a façade of progress and culture, yet are blind of their actions.... [tags: Heart Darkness essays]
1534 words (4.4 pages)
- Light and Dark in Conrad's Heart of Darkness In Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, the author adverts to the idea that the "entrapment of light by darkness [that] is continually suggested" (Bloom 46) is comparative to Marlow's personality and perspective of his expedition down the Congo River. Light symbolizes any object or concept that is positive while darkness represents anything that elicits malice. The way in which Conrad approaches the novel by using darkness constantly prevail over light shows a continual theme of foreboding and gloom.... [tags: Heart Darkness essays]
1536 words (4.4 pages)