Essay Contrasting Images in Things Fall Apart and Heart of Darkness

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Contrasting Images in Things Fall Apart and Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness portrays an image of Africa that is dark and inhuman. Not only does he describe the actual, physical continent of Africa as “so hopeless and so dark, so impenetrable to human thought, so pitiless to human weakness” (Conrad 94), as though the continent could neither breed nor support any true human life, but he also manages to depict Africans as though they are not worthy of the respect commonly due to the white man. At one point the main character, Marlow, describes one of the paths he follows: “Can’t say I saw any road or any upkeep, unless the body of a middle-aged negro, with a bullet-hole in the forehead, upon which I…show more content…
Darkness is everything that is unknown, primitive, evil, and impenetrable. To Conrad, Africa is the very representation of darkness. Marlow often uses the phrase, “We penetrated deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness” (Conrad 68), to describe his progress on the Congo. By traveling farther and farther down the Congo, Marlow and his crew get closer and closer to the epicenter of this foreboding darkness, to the black heart of evil. Because of Africa’s physical immensity and thick jungles, it appeared to be a land of the unknown where “the silence . . . went home to one’s very heart—its mystery, its greatness, the amazing reality of its concealed life”(56). This portrayal of Africa as both a romantic frontier and a foreboding wilderness continues to dominate in the minds of Westerners even today. Conrad depicts Africa as a land where the prehistoric has been preserved. He describes the journey up the Congo as something similar to a trip on a time machine: Going up that river was like traveling back to the earliest beginnings of the world, when vegetation rioted on the earth and the big trees were kings . . . There were moments when one’s past came back to one, as it will sometimes when you have not a moment to spare to yourself; but it came in the shape of an unrestful and noisy dream, remembered with wonder amongst the overwhelming realities of this strange world of

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