Heart of Darkness Symbols and Leitmotifs

Topics: Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness, English-language films Pages: 2 (671 words) Published: April 14, 2013
1)Trace the key symbols and leitmotifs.
One big symbol that I gathered from this reading was the darkness. Darkness in this novel has a double meaning. Not only are the areas, Europe, Africa and Brussels, dark, but the men in the story are also dark. The inhumane way they treat others, like slaves, leads to the darkness of man. The inability to see another for who they are and not an object leaves a man’s soul full of darkness. Add the fog setting in during certain points in the film, and this shows the inability to see clearly. I feel Marlow had a difficult time seeing clearly in front of him. Piloting the steamer up the river when fog sets in obscures his judgment. He has no idea where he is going or if any danger lies ahead. Fog also gives distorts things, giving enough information for one to start making decisions, but not enough information to judge the accuracy. Another symbol I caught was the river. The ride up the river was long and slow, almost to keep the men out of the Congo and reaching the inner camp. This slow ride also shows Marlow’s struggle to understand Kurtz and the situation he has landing in. Leaving the inner camp was somewhat fast, like the river was trying to expel them back into civilization. The river was the only way for the Europeans to enter the center of Africa instead crossing over it. I noticed that women were treated differently, but given the time frame for the novel, that was not uncommon. Marlow refers to women as being home, they are naïve, and have illusions of good things and not reality. Marlow’s aunt thinks that the work in Congo is to help the natives become more civilized, while the truth is that the natives are used almost like slaves for the ivory trade. The ivory trade is a deadly game. Most men trade the ivory, but the man named Kurtz, has separated himself from the company, and has a larger than life thought of him, he steals ivory, taking it by force through violence and intimidation. Ivory can...
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