Heart of Darkness: The Multiple Meanings of Darkness

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The Multiple Meanings of Darkness depicted in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness

Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness, originally published in 1899, is centered around an anonymous narrator retelling the story of a man named Marlow’s journey as an ivory transporter down the Congo River in Africa. Marlow, through his aunt, lands a job as a pilot on a steamboat under the control of a Belgian business referred to as the Company. On this voyage Marlow is on a mission to meet Kurtz, a man whom has become quite infamous among the natives and the Europeans. Marlow’s interest in Kurtz and his prestigious yet mysterious reputation grows as the novel progresses. Marlow begins his travels through Africa and encounters a large amount of brutality and carelessness at many of the Company’s stations. Many of the regions natives have been forced to work for the Company and are being mistreated. They are extremely overworked and neglected by the people of the Company. The violence and cruelty that occur are quite different from the natural beauty of the majestic jungle surrounding the settlements of the white men. This contrast makes the settlements appear as small areas among the widespread darkness. This example of darkness is not the only one explored throughout Conrad’s 1989 novel Heart of Darkness. Throughout the novel it is evident that there are multiple meanings of the word darkness being presented. Some are very obvious such as skin color, literal environmental darkness, and violence. However there are other occurrences such as mapping, and the psychological darkness that Conrad incorporates artfully into the novel. I will use this paper in order to explore the multiple meanings of darkness f Conrad provides throughout the entirety of Heart of Darkness. The setting of Heart of Darkness takes place along the Congo River in Africa. Chinua Achebe’s article titled An Image of Africa refers to Conrad’s novel saying, “Heart of Darkness projects the image of Africa as...
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