Conrad's Use Of Light And Dark

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade October 2001

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Conrad's Use of Light and Dark in Heart of Darkness Conrad created vivid descriptions throughout his novel containing the usage of expressive words, and figurative speech. Within the novel Heart of Darkness, Conrad uses words that apply to color and connects an inner meaning to them. Light versus dark can, for example, illustrate good vs. evil, the uncivilized versus the civilized, religion versus savagery or assumption vs. fact ("Themes" online).

Conrad's use of light and dark makes an example of how humans form excuses to act in certain ways. We often cover-up our true personalities while exposing a different side. An example is how society separates itself through the use of material goods such as clothing, automobiles, and occupations. Kurtz's African mistress is portrayed as wearing vibrant colors and shiny jewelry and, on the "lighter" side, a wild temper. Yet his "intended", which is of white heritage, wears black and has a "darker", more mysterious personality.

Darkness within the novel represents the uncivilized, while light represents the civilized. This form of comparison has been used since the Dark Ages. Christians believe that God created "light" to replace the "dark". God was the original creator of civilization in an uncivilized world. In Heart of Darkness, England was a "dark" area before the Romans brought civilization. The character Kurtz brought the darkness of England to Africa, spreading the evil of a dark theme, ivory trade ("Themes" online). The darkness of ivory trade is the excuse in which Kurtz's personality becomes. He separates himself from society using the material goods, representing the "dark". At the end of the novel, the reader realizes that Kurtz falls, meaning that his falsehood throughout the novel which appears to be the light, truly represents the dark. The "light" of ivory trade becomes the "dark" of...

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