Light And Dark In Joseph Conrad's Heart Of Darkness

748 words - 3 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.

             In Heart of Darkness, Conrad uses light and dark to symbolize good and evil, respectively. "It is whiteness that is truly sinister and evil, for it symbolizes the immoral scramble for loot by the unscrupulous and unfeeling Belgian traders in ivory and human flesh; the whiteness of ivory is also contrasted with the blackness of the natives whose lives must be destroyed for its sake" (Gillon 25).

            Two central themes occur in Conrad's Heart of Darkness. The first is the struggle between the white people and the native tribes, which plays into the next theme, that of light versus dark.  From the very start, Marlow, the main character, creates a feeling of darkness.

 At last, in its curved and imperceptible fall, the sun sank low, and from glowing white changed to a dull red without rays and without heat, as if about to go out suddenly, stricken to death by the touch of that gloom brooding over a crowd of men"(Conrad 28).

 He then starts out by telling a story of his adventures in the Congo while waiting for the tide to turn on the Thames River outside of London.

Marlow's use of a modern city is the first glimpse of what he considers civilized and more importantly, uncivilized. Marlow begins by speaking of the occupants of the boat. He explains that the owner of the boat is an accountant and a lawyer. This fact alludes to the idea of what might be considered civilized. He talks about the lights that are reflected in the water. This also creates the idea that he considers himself and the passengers of the boat civilized. The fact that these lights, which represent...

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