Light and Dark in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness Essay

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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
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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 good, emanate from a great civilization, London also represent good coming from light. However, he ponders the thought that "this also has been one of the dark places of the earth"(Conrad 29). By this he explains he means that the Romans, who were considered to be civilized, once came to conquer the wild, untamed British Isles nineteen hundred years ago. He creates a sense of fear with these words.

There is a real contrast between what is light and what is dark. These contrasts work within the reality of what is

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