Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness contrasts light and darkness, to represent the civilized and uncivilized sides of the world. Conrad uses light to represent the civilized side of humanity while contrasting the dark with the uncivilized and savage. Throughout the thematic stages of the novel, that is the Thames river London, the company's office in Belgium, the journey to the "heart of darkness" and the conclusion, light and dark is used to represent these sides of humanity, but on a deeper level many assumptions of darkness and light are challenged, with the appearance of light and dark, and in turn good and evil contrasting with the reality.
From the initial setting, the Thames river, London, on the "cruising yawl" the Nellie, light and darkness are used to symbolize the good and evil side of humanity. Marlow's tale of the Congo is where light and darkness is used to represent the civilized and uncivilized. Marlow talks of the lights that are reflected in the water, creating the idea that the members of the Nellie are civilized. The lights of London are again used represent the civilized nature of the society, with connotations of "good" coming from the bright lights of civilization. However this is then contrasted with the juxtaposition of the "light", with Marlow saying - "And this also has been one of the dark places of the Earth". By saying this Marlow is portraying London as a city with once the same darkness of civilization, of which the civilized Roman's brought light to. This establishment of light representing the civilized demonstrates the dominant assumptions of the white society, later in the novel it is demonstrated that civilized does no...
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...story. However Conrad also challenges many assumptions of darkness being solely associated with evil, and light being solely associated with good, as throughout the novel the light of the white society is critiqued, representing the evil side of humanity.
Works Cited and Consulted
Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. Middlesex, England: Penguin Publishers, 1983.
Gillon, Adam. (1982). Joseph Conrad. Twayne's English Author Series: Number 333. Kinley E. Roby, ed. Boston: Twayne.
"Joseph Conrad." The Encarta 1998 Encyclopedia Online. Microsoft, 1998.
Kunitz, Stanley J. "Joseph Conrad." Twentieth Century Authors: Vol. T. New York: H.W. Wilson Company, 1942. 307-9
Stape, J.H.. The Cambridge Companion to Joseph Conrad. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Taylor, Derek. Conrad's Heart of Darkness. The Explicator. No.4 Summer 1998: 195-8.
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