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Heart Of Darkness Essay

1006 words - 5 pages

Heart of Darkness Essay
Light and dark imagery is one element most commonly used in literature, and has held specific symbolic meanings for hundreds of years. Simply stated, light generally symbolizes good, while darkness symbolizes the complete opposite, evil. More specifically, Conrad uses detailed imagery of light and dark to show that white men can in fact be more savage than the natives. While the contrast of light and dark, white and black, and good and evil is a common theme in his novel, Conrad reverses the meanings of the two. In his story often the light is viewed as more menacing and evil than the darkness, and the white characters more spiteful than the black. In Heart of ...view middle of the document...

” The natives of the darkness are considered as ‘black’ shadows, but not in an intimidating way. They are described as helpless and pitiful, black victims of white man’s evil. The white building symbolizes evil and corruption, while the darkness of the forest and its people symbolize purity and innocence.
Another way in which Conrad uses his reversed theme of light and dark is with the actual characters of the story. Aside from Marlow, nearly every white man in the story is portrayed negatively. The general manager is an awkward man whose presence causes uneasiness in those around him. He, like all the other white men in the novel, is there for his own greedy purposes. The brick maker is a sneaky man who acts as a spy for the manager, and is untrustworthy and hateful. He is so worried that Marlow will be more successful than him that he grows to hate him. The pilgrims are the white workers that keep Marlow company down the river. These are the worst of the white men, and are full of greed. “They wandered here and there with their absurd long staves in their hands, like a lot of faithless pilgrims bewitched inside a rotten fence. The word `ivory' rang in the air, was whispered, was sighed. You would think they were praying to it.” Conrad establishes that the white men can very clearly be more savage than any native. These men are ungrateful and selfish, and will do anything to make money off of the ivory. Their cruelty to the natives is so horrid that Marlow’s believes the pilgrims are in fact less human than the natives. The cannibals that travel with Marlow are described as reasonable and calm. Marlow much prefers them to the pilgrims. “Fine fellows--cannibals--in their place. They were men one could work with, and I am grateful to them.” The natives have an innocence that the pilgrims do not. The white pilgrims represent corruption, the black...

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