The Real Heart Of Darkness
Heart of Darkness is not only the title of Joseph Conrad’s novella, it is also a main theme. This is portrayed through different images of darkness, black and evil throughout his story. The setting is often used with images of darkness; even as Marlow tells his tale, it is night. This ‘darkness’ is inside many concepts of the novella such as Africa, women, black people, maps, the ivory trade corporation and Kurtz. Through these images on his journey, Marlow has a realization about the inner darkness of man, and thus brings out the theme, and title, Heart Of Darkness.
At the time, the Europeans often referred to Africa as the ‘Dark Continent’. This is the main setting of Marlow’s story and his destination is the Congo, which is the heart of Africa. An image of darkness is used to portray this whole setting. As Marlow begins to narrate, one of the first descriptions of Africa that he gives is of the dark shores. This gives the passengers of the Nellie, as well as the reader, their initial image of the Dark Continent.
Before Marlow leaves for Africa, he goes for an interview at the company’s office. There he comes across two women knitting with black wool. In Greek mythology, the allusion of the fates were in charge of a person’s life, and they would spin a string
symbolic of this. These women themselves represent the allusion of the fates, and the black wool they use foreshadows the dark fate and horror that Marlow will soon encounter.
On his journey, Marlow has a realization about the inner darkness and evil in mans heart. The journey he takes down the river into Africa is symbolic of a journey into ones soul, to the center of darkness in mans heart. The darkness of the soul becomes more and more apparent to Marlow as the crew goes deeper into Africa. This is because they start to feel more isolated and Marlow has the opportunity to see a clear vision of himself.
As Marlow begins to realize the darkness within man’s soul, he feels that women are too weak to face this world he sees. “They – the women, I mean – are out of it – should be out of it. We must help them to stay in that beautiful world of their own, lest ours gets worse.” (p.376) Marlow feels that the women should not be allowed to see the darkness, as they are too weak and fragile to face the truth, and he believes they should continue to live in their own world. Marlow even lies to Kurtz’s Intended, telling her the last thing Kurtz said was her name, because the real truth was to dark to tell.
However, women are not the only people in this novella used to symbolize darkness; black people are also exercised as an image of darkness. Conrad uses the darkness of their skin in comparison to the white people’s...