Light and Dark in Heart of Darkness Essay

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Light and Dark in Heart of Darkness

The brightest of lights can obscure vision while darkness can contain truths: one must not be distracted by the sheen of light, which conceals the deeper reality present in darkness. Joseph Conrad's novel Heart of Darkness illustrates this idea with the use of several symbols. White Europeans are used as symbols of self-deception, and objects with an alabaster quality are symbols of barriers to inner truth. Black is the foil of white; it represents the inner truth beneath the white surface reality. White people and objects represent the exterior reality that obscures the deeper truth present in darkness.

The Europeans in the novel represent those who hide from the truth within
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The manager fulfilled many of the rules of "proper" white society, but at times showed his true inhumanity. While white men tended to represent self-deception, white women represented those who cannot accept the truth of the world around them. Marlow's aunt believed that colonialism was great for the colonized people. She spoke of, "weaning those ignorant millions from their horrid ways", by way of colonization. She refused to admit the fact that colonialism was about money and not helping others. She refused to accept the darkness of reality. Another white woman that symbolized those who hide from reality was the Intended. The Intended was surrounded with an ashy halo that further illustrated her innocence. In the novel, the Intended held such high beliefs in her beloved Kurtz that she considered him almost perfect. She stated, "Men looked up to him-his goodness shone in every act" (Conrad 163). The Intended was too devoted to Kurtz to ever accept that he fell to evil. Conrad uses white objects in conjunction with white people to represent deception and surface realities.

Almost all objects in Heart of Darkness have symbolic meaning. White objects represent both a surface reality that hides a greater truth and good things that inspires evil actions. The city of Brussels, where Marlow was hired for the job in Africa, reminded Marlow of a "whited sepulcher" and its inside was not but darkness and rot. The white surface reality
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