AP English Literature
17th September, 2014
Heart of Darkness is a well-known book, full of irony and violence. But the main part of the book is about Marlow and his surroundings. Joseph Conrad reveals Marlow’s characteristics when he changes Marlow’s environment from civilized to barbaric, through the use of imagery, symbols, and the intensity of his diction.
Language and the diction of language is one of the most idealistic topics. Since Marlow is narrating most of the entire story, it’s styled to sound like a drawn out monologue. It’s stop and go with his story, while he remembers different topics and materials of his adventure. The long paragraphs are spoken, and read, without a pause for a breath to be taken. This causes the text itself to feel like its creating a difficult, and even imprisoning scenery. Marlow also throws in a lot of repetition, which causes a dark and frightening atmosphere. “Trees, Trees, ...view middle of the document...
Symbols are an enormous part of Heart of Darkness. One being part of the name: darkness. Darkness is apparent through the entire novella. It’s so important that it even has a place in the title to show. It’s actually quite difficult to find the exact meaning of darkness, because it takes over absolutely everything. But, metaphorically, darkness seems to evolve into a representation of the darkness hidden in every heart of every human being, quite specifically, Kurtz. He represents the darkness of mankind, and what happens to you if you allow it to fully control you. His exposures to the desolate regions of the Congo are the cause of Kurtz’s madness. With heads on sticks and other barbaric actions, he lost his hold on domestic ethics, that even his last words of “the horror, the horror!” show that he found the deepest amounts of darkness that there was to find.
Conrad knits together multiple images of both light and dark to help Marlow narrate his journey. But, the way light is thrown into the book isn’t to show the good in the world, but show the darkness that has over taken the light and has made it evil. Marlow straightforwardly states-“sunlight can be made to lie too” (152). Granted he’s talking about Kurtz’s fiancée, but the imagery combined with this shows the true meaning, that even in the brightest of times, and in the brightest of faces, you’ll always find manipulation of the light to make you believe that. Kurtz is neither light nor dark he - in a symbolic way, is the ‘white fog’. Both light and dark at the same time. In other words he is a devil with deceiving and unrestricted wickedness, which is being portrayed at some times, as a god.
In the end, Heart of Darkness is a book that shows the effects of surroundings on people perfectly. Conrad works in depth with imagery, symbols, and the intensity of his diction to make the story of Marlow and Kurtz so superb. Analytically, it’s easy to see his diction is set impeccably till the end, to give the book an entire new meaning with the simple words of Marlow: "'His last word -- to live with,' she murmured. ‘Don’t you understand I loved him -- I loved him -- I loved him!' I pulled myself together and spoke slowly. The last word he pronounced was -- your name."