Criticism And Symbolism In Heart Of Darkness By Joseph Conrad

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In Heart Of Darkness, Joseph Conrad discusses how the Europeans treat the native congo people. Throughout the novella imperialism is presented by the Europeans attempting to colonize the Congo region. Joseph Conrad explains the harsh exploitation of the Congo through the perspective of Marlow. Marlow sees how the natives are treated with disrespect as their rightful land is taken from them. By analyzing Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad through a new criticism lens, one can see that the novella includes literary devices such as diction, symbolism, and similes to describe the cruel treatment of the natives and the imperialism in Africa. Throughout the Novella Conrad uses dark diction. On page 19, Conrad utilizes the word, “violent” to display …show more content…
One example of symbolism is, “These round knobs were not ornamental, but symbolic; they were expressive and puzzling, striking and disturbing” (57). In this sentence Marlow believes that the “round knobs” (57) are a form of decoration or ornamental to the natives. Marlow is unaware that the knobs are actually the heads of the native people. Marlow eventually discovers that the knobs are the heads of the “rebels” (57). One of the European men said, “There had been enemies, criminals, workers—and these were rebels. Those rebellious heads looked very subdued to me on their sticks” (57). The symbolism of the word rebels shows that Kurtz is greedy and does not care about the natives. He sees them as rebels and does not value their lives. Kurtz only values his ivory trade and his money. Also, the heads symbolize Kurtz’s and other Europeans cruel nature. Large stakes in front of Kurtz’s residence with heads on them symbolize how Kurtz is not scared to kill and take over a region of those who do not obey him. The heads are also meant to display Kurtz’s strength and his disregard for human life. Another example of symbolism in Heart of Darkness is Conrad using flies to show and symbolize death. On page 19, Conrad writes, “In the steady buzz of flies the homeward-bound agent was lying finished and insensible” and on page 69 he also writes, “A continuous shower of small flies streamed upon the lamp, upon the cloth, upon our hands and faces”. Both of these quotations show that the appearance of flies usually means death has happened or is involved. The presence of flies and death show the evilness, danger, and demolition that the Europeans have brought with them to the Congo region. Flies are a symbolism for the cruel treatment the Congo natives have undergone. Marlow’s calmness in the presence of flies shows how the Europeans are used to death and do not seem afraid to kill or cause harm and

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