The color black is often used to represent the darkness of the inner soul, while the color white symbolizes the light in our lives. Both represents a struggle between good and evil, which can be found throughout Conrad’s writing.
The buzzing flies are also symbols representing death. The buzzing sound was present when Kurtz arrived, especially around his dying body; this shows that death was ever-present in the heart of Darkness.
Using these symbols throughout his work, Joseph Conrad creates an atmosphere filled with deep meaning far beyond what you would expect from reading only words on a page. It is through these symbolic devices that readers can gain insight into the complexity of life and how it affects us all differently.
Black is also used to symbolize the journey that Marlow must go through in order to find Kurtz. As he travels deeper and deeper into the jungle, it becomes increasingly darker and more dangerous. The people he meets along his way are also described as being covered or surrounded by darkness or evil.
Even when Marlow reaches Kurtz’s house deep within the jungle, there is an almost oppressive sense of dread and darkness which looms over everything. Ultimately black is used throughout Heart of Darkness to represent death, danger, and evil but can also be seen as a positive representation of inner strength and determination for those who dare venture out into such an unknown world.
The atmosphere of darkness that Joseph Conrad captures in “Heart of Darkness” symbolizes the fear and trepidation that any explorer could feel when they are so far away from home, traveling into a strange and unknown land. The evil is further highlighted by Kurtz’s large temple, situated amongst the wilderness. Despite being well-lit at night, this temple remains an ominous presence looming over Marlow as soon as he steps foot on the territory, indicating something more sinister than mere exploration lies beneath its dark exterior walls.
The overall meaning that black conveys when used by Conrad in Heart of Darkness is one of foreboding and darkness. The color itself has been identified with evil and badness, but at the same time conveys a certain beauty to it as well. It contrasts perfectly against the white, which characterizes peace and joy yet still carries with it a sense of mystery. By using this dichotomy, Conrad paints an image for the reader that shows both sides of dark versus light while allowing them to make their interpretations.
He is making a statement that instead of people being judged for the color of their skin, one should be judged by their characteristics. This is seen in characters such as Kurtz and Marlow. Both Kurtz and Marlow reject the traditional British stereotypes associated with black-skinned African natives and find an understanding between themselves despite their different upbringings.
Conrad’s message is essentially to understand someone’s character, you must first get to know them, not just look at the color of their skin or where they come from.
Yet, Conrad also uses color to symbolize pure evil when Marlow encounters Kurtz. When he first meets Kurtz, Marlow notices how pale and almost ghostly he is. This creates an ominous feeling of dread that lingers on throughout their conversations. Even though white traditionally stands for peace and purity, in this case, it’s clear that the color has been corrupted by Kurtz’s presence and intention of domination over those living within the Congo.
Another example of white as a symbol of evil is seen in Macbeth when Lady Macbeth appears with her hands bloodstained and ghostly pale. This physical transformation represents the terrible act she had just committed, and it’s symbolic that her skin is so pallid or like a dead person’s. Through the use of this symbolism, readers can see how powerful an image of white can be in representing death, darkness, and evil.
The setting of Heart of Darkness is also an important symbol in the novel. The Congo River and its surrounding jungle act as a physical space but also have a symbolic presence. The dark jungles are meant to reflect the darkness inside of each character’s soul, with their depravity and wickedness revealed through their actions throughout the story.
This place serves as a reminder that while evil may lurk beneath good intentions, there still exists hope in ultimately overcoming it. By using this imagery, Conrad demonstrates how even when faced with complete darkness, one can rise again if one remains hopeful enough.
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