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The color black symbolizes the darkness of the heart, which is a main theme of the book. It is used to show just how evil and twisted humanity can become as it is consumed by greed. The color white in Heart of Darkness also has strong implications that refer to good versus evil or truth versus lies. By contrasting these two colors, Conrad creates an undertone of duality in his work and encourages readers to think deeply about what they are reading.
Finally, buzzing flies represent death and corruption throughout the novel with their ominous presence filling up any environment they appear in. This symbol ties directly into the story’s themes related to morality and learning from one’s mistakes as we see Marlowe realize that he never should have gone looking for Kurtz because ultimately this search led him down paths from lightness into darkness itself.
Symbols such as these can create a vivid image within our minds draw us further and deeper into stories than ever before possible without them.
Black also symbolizes the degeneration of morality in some parts of the book. The manager of Kurtz’s station talks about how his progress is being blackened, making it sound like he was caught between two moral extremes and was losing himself to a darkness which consumed his better judgement.
The color black also carries connotations of mystery and unknown truths. This idea plays a major role throughout Heart Of Darkness as Marlow gradually uncovers what really happened in the jungle before Kurtz took over everything there. He discovers that these truths are much darker than anyone could have ever imagined.
The darkness of the land represents the unknowing of what is to come and how, like death, it can sneak up on people. The character Marlowe experiences a sense of hopelessness knowing that he is in an unfamiliar place where death could be lurking around any corner.
He says “Going up that river was like travelling back to the earliest beginnings of the world” (43). This sentence serves as proof that they were entering unknown territory, not just geographically but perhaps spiritually; there was no way anyone could be prepared for their journey down this hazardous river and all its surprises which awaited them.
In a sense, one could say that the color black has also been used to demonstrate an uncertainty as this dark land and its dark people are complex and hard to gauge. In some cases, they work together while in others they do not.
This allows Conrad to explore multiple characters’ responses to different situations and how each of them reacts when placed into uncertain circumstances. By showing all the different nuances of the color black, Conrad is able to portray his book much more effectively than had he just stuck with it being purely evil or good.
He makes Marlow’s journey to the Congo a treacherous and difficult one with natives throwing spears at his steamboat, amongst other dangers. Through this, he demonstrates that humanity is flawed no matter outward appearances or cultural backgrounds.
He emphasizes the idea of seeing beyond color; it doesn’t define morality and danger in any way as Conrad expresses through his characters. This encourages readers to forget about their racial biases and recognize the flaws within all humans rather than just those who are different from them race wise.
The color white is also associated with the character Kurtz who symbolizes all of the evil in Heart of Darkness. Marlow describes him as “living almost exclusively among death and darkness” and dressed completely in white to contrast his surroundings.
Through this characterization Conrad uses the color white to give us a physical representation of Kurtz’s oppressive power. He is shown existing amongst complete darkness surrounded by whites, signifying that although he may be hidden from plain sight, his powers still reach far beyond what can be seen on the surface.
The power of greed is a huge issue in this novel, as it taints one’s morals and beliefs. We see characters like Kurtz and Marlow make decisions based on their own interests for gaining more wealth or power, rather than doing what might be rightfully ethical or just. This often leads to severe consequences such as destruction of innocent people’s livelihoods and even death.
The theme of greed is not limited to individuals but can also product corruption within the establishment itself which creates an unjust society. Conrad develops these concepts intricately throughout the novel, allowing readers to internalize them fully and contemplate how humans should behave when driven by certain desires that require power or money.
Flies are frequently associated with death and decay in literature. This imagery is used to emphasize the horrors, degradation and darkness of Marlowe’s journey up the Congo River. The absence of birds, a sign of life in comparison to flies being symbols of death, also plays a part in Conrad’s symbolic representation.
By depicting such images, it shows how little hope there was that anyone would escape unscathed from such an environment. It conveys just how bleak and desperate things were for all those who found themselves on this expedition.
The flies also symbolizes the power of death that dominated over all life in the Congo. All around, people are dying and being buried yet it is never ending cycle because new people come to take their place.
The symbolism here is that no matter how hard they tried, they would always be living very close to death and this was emphasized by the constant presence of flies surrounding them. The use of the flies buzzing around death is a constant reminder throughout Heart of Darkness.
Death was inescapable, and Marlow was constantly confronted with his own mortality during his voyage down the Congo. Every time he encountered some sort of ill omen or symbol that death may be near, there were always flies present in the background, ready to carry away another soul from this world. This serves as a constant reminder that death follows you everywhere, no matter how hard one tries to run away from it; it will catch up eventually.
The use of symbolism in Heart of Darkness is not limited to these three symbols. Other examples include the African wilderness, ivory, the “darkness” itself, and Kurtz’s painting. The African wilderness symbolizes a place where evil thrives and hides and it gives readers a sense of foreboding due to its remote location.
Ivory symbolizes greed as well as colonialism since European traders were enticed by all the money they could make from this exotic material. Last but not least is Kurtz’s painting which has been interpreted as meaning that no matter what kind of power one may have obtained, it will always be finite when compared with nature around them.
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