"Heart Of Darkness" Illuminates The Tenebrous Core Of Mankind

750 words - 3 pages

Since the introduction of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness into society, critics have debated over the meaning of the ambiguous title. There are many interpretations of this title, but the general consensus is that in the heart of darkness, you cannot do good: you can only be less evil. The title refers to not only the physical lack of light in the jungle, but also to the grim consequences of imperialism due to the stygian heart of mankind.
The first meaning is that the “heart of darkness” refers to actual lack of light in the book, the jungle in particular. In the beginning of the novel, Marlow describes that the “air was dark above Gravesend” (3). This is foreshadowing of the looming darkness Marlow will face ahead. When Charlie reaches the edge of the jungle, he describes it as “so dark-green to be almost black” (11). This refers to the caliginous jungle, but also the corruptive nature of the jungle as seen through the transformation of Kurtz. Another example of physical darkness occurs when darkness encroaches on Marlow and the listeners. Marlow describes it as being “so pitch dark that we listeners could barely see each other” (95). Marlow observes that the forest draws him in and seems beckon him to explore it. It had a “treacherous appeal to the lurking death, to the hidden evil, to the profound darkness of its heart” (36). Marlow recognizes the lightlessness, but is still drawn to it. This emphasizes the darkness every man and woman has within them. It is in the primal nature of the human race to be drawn and tempted toward evil. The title Heart of Darkness refers to the actual lack of light in the story, particularly the atramentous jungle. This absence of light usually foreshadows the darkening of characters later on in the novella.
Another theory suggests that the heart of darkness is referring to the iniquitous hearts of mankind. The "darkness" illustrated distinctly refers to the "darkest" side of humanity as seen in the brutal colonists and ivory traders depicted in the book. While some believe Kurtz himself is the heart of darkness, he is truly only a figurehead and a symbol for a much larger concept. The...

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