Darkness And Light In Heat Of Darkness Compare Kurtz's African Woman To "His Intended" And Show How This Contrast Highlights The Central Theme Of The Novel: Heart Of Darkness By Joseph Conrad

979 words - 4 pages

In Joseph Conrad's novella, Heart of Darkness, Marlow - who is both the protagonist, whose actions make up the main plot of the novel, and the narrator, whose thoughts and attitudes shape the reader's perception of the story - has a revelation about human nature. Initially, he associates things such as civilisation, knowledge, and good in terms of light - as it appears; and lack of civilisation, savagery, and evil in terms of darkness - an expected perception. However, as Marlow begins to have glimpses at the truth of human nature, his associations reverse. He associates darkness with the civilised brutality of imperialist Europe, and light with the savage reality of native Africa. The theme ...view middle of the document...

In contrast to his mistress, Kurtz's Intended is a product of the "White Sepulchre", as C.B. Cox points out "the Intended lives in a place of death rather than of life, darkness rather than light, delusion rather than reality."It is this contrast that develops Marlow's misapprehension of darkness and light. Assembling an appearance confused with reality scenario. The savage African mistress and her world is the human reality, and that the civilised European society is but a superficial façade, an appearance, hiding the reality of the "Heart of Darkness".This juxtaposition of the Intended with Kurtz's mistress emphasises the theme of light and darkness through the behaviour of the culturally constructed Victorian woman. By appearance the Intended lives under the false light of civilisation has provided for her. When in fact she has shut herself in "tomb of darkness", where everything shows signs of the lifeless existence of her kind. She is accustomed to complying with the high standards of behavioural control as well as conforming to the puritan ideals of emotional and sexual restriction of the Victorian customs. Also the Intended wears a simple black garment and lives in a place of darkness, in "a pre-Eliot city of the Dead", in the wasteland of modern Europe. Kurtz's mistress by contrast highlights the Intended's characteristics because she is vibrant, emotive, and behaviourally and sexually unrepressed. Eventually Marlow concedes that this primal humanity represents light - not to be confused with the darkness of her skin or the perceived darkness of savagery and lack of restraint - but instead, the light represents the pure reality, the inner truth of what human beings are, even if that truth bears a "heart of darkness".There is an ironic contrast developed between the two...

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