When considering a work of literature, the title can be just as
important as the context of the story. Literary devices such as contrast and
repetition help develop the symbolism of Joseph Conrad's novel, Heart of
Darkness. The use of contrast can be seen within the differences between the
black and white people along with the differences between the civilized and
uncivilized. The phrase "Heart of Darkness" itself is repetitious to describe
certain places, events, and people. Joseph Conrad successfully relates his
title to the African continent, the people, how the people were treated, and
the soul of Kurtz.
The title can relate to the wilderness in the center of Africa where
Marlow is headed. In the story, the commander sees England as many men
viewed Africa. It is a "sea the colour of lead" and "sky the color of smoke"
which conveys the place as dark and gloomy. Furthermore, Englishmen
wanted to colonize Africa and they were willing to sacrifice their lives for the
journey. Marlow shows that wilderness really isn't a place for men to be.
The sheer size of "darkness" makes the people powerless, despite the fact
that they feel that they can make improvements in Africa. Through it all, the
darkness provides many challenges for the civilizers and as a result, their
conditions become worse, causing them to achieve very little. Wilderness is
a very significant symbol because it is not only the background in which the
story takes place, but almost a "character" of the story.
Conrad uses racism to get across the point of how the people were in
the novel. He constantly refers to the natives as black savages, niggers,
brutes, and "them". "Black figures strolled out listlessly.......the beaten
nigger groaned somewhere"........"They passed me with six inches, without a
glance, with the complete, deathlike indifference of unhappy savages."
Marlow praises the book keeper almost as if it's the natives' fault for enduring
a life in such waste. The bookeeper states that the natives aren't criminals,
but are being treated as if they are. At the same time, he respects the book
keeper for his looks while not despising him for his indifference. In the
novel, the African Americans are considered inferior and the continent of
Africa is considered as another world. Despite the fact that the African
Americans appear as better people than the Europeans, who...