Essay about Opposition of Black and White in Heart of Darkness

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The Opposition of Black and White in Heart of Darkness

In Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad explores the psychological “heart of darkness” within all of humanity. The text looks at the European societies false illumination of civilization, of which obscures the internal darkness, in relation to the psychological environment in which human’s are placed. Conrad sets up the opposition of black and white to display the superficial pretense of light in the European society, and the true heart of darkness which is present within all of humanity.

From the start of Marlow’s journey into the African Congo it is apparent that he is a product of the colonialist European society, which is where the first oppositions of black and white
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Marlow responds to his naiveté this by leaving the area, and continuing on his journey.

The Accountant, who Marlow encounters immediately after the native boy provides a stark contrast, dressed entirely in neatly pressed white linen. This man is representative of the ideas that Marlow associated with the civilization before he enters the Congo. Marlow admires the accountant, calling him a “miracle” and “superb”, this is because he is not tainted by the darkness – the savage and the uncivilized nature of the Congo, and he has great devotion to his work despite this, saying “His books were in apple pie order”. Marlow stated that, in keeping clean and orderly, "the man had verily accomplished something" (28). However, the Accountant, although devoted to his work lacks empathy, evident through his disregard of the calls of dying natives. The use of white, represents the ideology of the colonialists, the façade of light, and the pristine human character, which are all challenged in Conrad’s reversal of these color associations.

Furthermore the use of ivory throughout the novel as the main premise of the Company’s business, and reason for exploitation, is particularly important in it’s color association. The ivory was obtained through the enslavement of the jungle natives by the white imperialists. In this instance, the ivory represents exploitation and abuse of the people of the area by the white colonialists. The fact that the ivory was obtained

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