Heart Of Darkness: Use Of Light And Dark Imagery

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‘Heart of Darkness’ is a novel that intertwines many images of both light and dark to help describe Marlow’s journey in Africa but more importantly they serve a much greater purpose. Conrad’s use of light is significant and is symbolic of the European ‘emissaries of light’ (79) who disguise their greedy and murderous intentions in divine garbs; the epitome being the manager a ‘flabby, pretending, weak-eyed devil’ (83). Equally significant is Conrad’s darkness which is man’s true capacity for evil seen through palpable forms of horror and murder throughout the story. Kurtz is neither light nor dark, he is the ‘white fog’ both light and dark at the same time or in other words a devil with a deceptive and unrestrained evil whose pulse emanates from the Heart of Darkness. Light, usually seen as an incarnation of all that is good instead finds itself depicted as a deceptive evil fueled by pure European greed, as Marlow bluntly states-‘sunlight can be made to lie too’ (152). This light does not radiate from the sun but instead from the ivory trade headquarters in Brussels, a city that reminds Marlow of a ‘white sepulchre’ (75). Beautiful on the exterior while housing evil and death in the form of men who run the ivory trade, the headquarters spews out rays of light in the form of men who Marlow sarcastically labels as ‘emissaries of light’ (70). These beings of light are praised by the uninformed masses as agents tasked with ‘weaning those ignorant millions (the African natives) from their horrible ways’ (74) instead their true purpose is to amass as much ivory as possible with no regard for human decency. The natives bogusly seen as less than humans by these emissaries are horrifically murdered and exploited. No other character exemplifies an ‘emissary of light’ as much as the manager, brazenly described by Marlow as a ‘flabby, pretending, weak-eyed devil of a

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