Essay about Light and Dark in Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

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In the book, Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, all the characters are pulled into a well of black despair. Conrad uses the darkness of the situation contrasted to the light of society to show man’s dependence on western morals, and how when these morals are challenged by the darkness, the light crumbles under its newly weakened foundation. The contrast between light and dark is most stark in the themes of setting, the changes in Europeans as they drive farther into the Congo, and the white man’s collapse under the ultimate darkness of the Innermost Congo.

The setting of Heart of Darkness is a very critical part of the book, and Conrad goes to extreme lengths to highlight the evil radiating from the region in which he sets his
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However I wasn’t going into any of these. I was going into the yellow. Dead in the centre. And the river was there-fascinating-deadly-like a snake."

The description shows the bleakness of the Congo compared to the outside world, is one of the first representations of the civilized (or outside) world contrasted to the Congo. The uncivilized/civilized comparison and the descriptions of darkness heighten when Conrad increases the contrast by moving Marlow into an oasis of civilization, the Main Station, a port outpost on the coast of Africa, owned and commanded by white Europeans, but kept alive by the slave work of black natives. Upon setting foot on shore,

Marlow begins to see glimpses of the darkness that awaits him, the natives along the path are described, in a manner closer to animal than human:

"Near the same tree two more bundles of acute angles sat with their legs drawn up. One, with his chin propped on his knees stared at nothing, in an intolerable and appalling manner... others were scattered about in every pose of contorted collapse, as in some picture of massacre or pestilence."

The scene disturbs Marlow a great deal and he hastens to reach the camp, where he is removed from this reality he finds unpleasant when he comes upon another man like himself, dressed in pure white, such that Marlow "took him for a sort of vision", and is temporarily rescued from the setting Conrad has created. Conrad continues to create a setting that is described as
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