Heart of darkness the multiple meanings

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Heart of darkness the multiple meanings

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.

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. 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 Heart of darkness the multiple meanings 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.

On his journey in Africa, Marlow comes into contact with many of the regions natives. One of the meanings of darkness presented in the novel refers to skin color.

The meaning of darkness

The natives of Africa have a darker skin tone compared to the white European men. The natives are described as being savages, which is why the Europeans view themselves as being superior.

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The treatment of these natives is often demeaning and cruel. In various passages they are referred to as exemplifying savagery with animalistic behaviors. There is often conflict between the white Company men and the African natives. Throughout the novel, skin color is used effectively as a tool of symbolism, specifically when it comes to darkness.

I find the description of these natives to be rather racist in terms of skin color. This passage below from the novel Heart of Darkness is an example of the negative views on race that the Europeans had against the natives.

But these men could by no stretch of imagination be called enemies. They were called criminals and the outraged law, like the bursting shells, had come to them, an insoluble mystery from over the sea.

All their meager breasts panted together, the violently dilated nostrils quivered, the eyes stared stonily up-hill. They passed me within six inches, without a glance, with that complete, deathlike indifference of unhappy savages. The Company saw them as a threat and decided to chain them up making them become battered and weak.

Heart of darkness the multiple meanings

They were perceived as uncivilized and evil because of the darkness of their skin color. The natives in Heart of Darkness are treated as objects rather than actual people. The overall theme of darkness is portrayed in the natural setting throughout the novel.

Conrad is able to develop this darkness through the ominous and gloomy descriptions of the characters and setting. His portrayals convey a sense of foreboding leading to a lot of sinister imagery. The dismal surroundings described are parallel with the darkness that has infected Kurtz and the continuous growing of it inside of Marlow.

This quote illustrates that the darkness infested in the physical environment can affect ones ability to see the blackness inside their own morals. The passage below is from the scene in which the steamboat is passing the African natives.

Here the members of the company are showing prejudices towards these natives and their savagery. Well, you know, that was the worst of it — this suspicion of their not being inhuman.

It would come slowly to one. They howled and leaped, and spun, and made horrid faces; but what thrilled you was jus the thought of their humanity — like yours — the thought of your remote kinship with this wild and passionate uproar.

Expert Answers

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Heart of Darkness - Wikipedia