Heart of Darkness

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Throughout the novel Heart of Darkness Conrad uses the motif of the heart to thoroughly explain how dark people and places really can be. Conrad uses the heart as a symbol for the entire continent of Africa. The heart is also used to show what the heart of mankind truly is. Another use of the heart is as a representation of the inner station, which shows the darkness of exploitations through Kurtz. The different uses of the heart are amplified through such literary devices as irony, imagery, and metaphors. Africa, according to most maps, is at the center of the world just as a heart is the center of the body. However, the Europeans did not know much about Africa. There was a blank spot on the map that kept Africa dark and hidden from people. Marlow decides to go to the heart of the world to explore the Dark Continent. Conrad shows just how dark and mysterious Africa is by using metaphors to describe parts of the continent; He refers to the Congo River as an “uncoiled snake”. This type of metaphor creates great imagery and lets the reader know just how dark and dangerous Africa really is. Africa is also considered dark because everything that Marlow encounters here is considered evil. He sees great darkness in the exploitation of the native. The darkness of Africa directly ties into the heart of mankind. The white people that go to Africa to exploit the native show how cruel and evil men are when they receive benefits for their doings. Conrad uses vivid imagery to paint a picture to convey just how bad conditions are on the natives. Marlow says, “They were dying slowly- it was very clear. They were not enemies, they were not criminals, they were nothing earthly now- nothing but black shadows of disease, starvation, lying confusedly in the greenish gloom” (26). This passage depicts the conditions of the slaves; the one’s who were victims of man’s evil and darkness. Despite how bad things were for the natives, the Europeans felt no sympathy for them and this is the...
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