Heart of Darkness

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Juxtaposition is one of the many literary element used in emphasis of a concept or an idea. In the novel Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad juxtaposes the motifs of light and dark to emphasize the wickedness present throughout the book. Through juxtaposition, Conrad not only emphasizes the darkness in Africa but also intensifies the dark hearts of the Europeans. The major darkness in the novel is the land of Africa itself. When Marlow first makes his way upstream with his crew, he describes the land of Africa as a dark place, saying that the river was “an empty stream, a great silence, an impenetrable forest. The air was warm, thick, heavy, sluggish. There was no joy in the brilliance of sunshine” (30). He uses lightness words like “brilliance” and “sunshine” to intensify this darkness. Also, Conrad even depicts Africa as the “heart of darkness”. He says, “we penetrated deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness. It was very quiet there. At night sometimes the roll of drums behind the curtain of trees would run up the river and remain sustained faintly, as if hovering in the air high over our heads, till the first break of day” (31). Africa is full of darkness and it all happens at night, before the sun rises and brightens up the world again. “I looked around, and I don’t know why, but I assure you that never, never before, did this land, this river, this jungle, the very arch of this blazing sky, appear to me so hopeless and so dark, so impenetrable to human thought, so pitiless to human weakness” (51), describes Marlow. Here, the darkness is portrayed as gloom, not the darkness of evil. Even the “blazing” sky looked hopeless. By juxtaposing the words “blazing” and “dark”, Conrad emphasizes that the glum of the land defeated its bright and sunny sky. Through the use of juxtaposition, the darkness of the land of Africa is emphasized and intensified. Conrad also uses juxtaposition of the character of the accountant to emphasize the darkness not...
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