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Heart of Darkness as a Metaphor

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by

Christian Barnes

on 6 November 2013

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Transcript of Heart of Darkness as a Metaphor

A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.
Kurtz's Painting
Darkness
Darkness becomes a very important symbol in the novel. Marlow's tale opens up and ends in darkness. Many of the novel's significant events also happen in darkness.
What is a Metaphor?
The Congo River
In the book, Marlow equates the river with a coiled snake. This now makes the river a symbol for danger, lying in waiting to strike.
It should be noted that Marlow's journey upriver, into the heart of the Congo, is very time-consuming and difficult. This analysis suggests that the journey, itself, is both a slow and arduous task.
In literal terms, the Congo River is the Europeans main means by which they enter the African region. This is their main method of transportation.
Being represented as a symbol, darkness symbolizes the core of our being. It is the substance that is left after we throw away all of the illusions and comforts of civilization; a huge emptiness.
Darkness becomes the symbolic equivalent of Kurtz's last words: "The horror, the horror!"
Decapitated Heads
Being of his stature, Kurtz has his own station. When Marlow arrives, he notices that Kurt has decorated some type of line of ornaments surrounding the main house. However, upon closer examination, Marlow soon discovers that the ornaments are actually heads on a stick, victims of Kurtz's wrath.
This presentation of direct evidence reveals just how unsound Kurtz's methods are. They also reveal his level of sanity; not that high, you would guess.
This evidence can also be applied to ourselves, revealing the savage and brutal nature that lies within each one of us.
Ivory
The main reason for the Europeans to travel to the Congo is to retrieve ivory.
The European's desire for the ivory symbolizes the lust and greed that they possess.
Ivory is a very beautiful and pure object, but the desire to obtain it requires very ugly and impure means.
Ivory can also symbolize the whiteness of the Europeans and their culture.
Heart of Darkness
as a Metaphor

The Intended
The Intended is, of course, Kurtz's finacee. However, she represents all the values and the morals that Europeans "intended" to bring to the Congo.
Of course, their lust and desire for ivory makes any alturistic actions impossible.
Kurtz had a painting, an image of a blindfolded woman carrying a torch. This is very significant to the story.
Through this painting, the readers may be reminded of the blindfolded symbol of justice, presented in this novel.
The painting can allude to the injustices that take place at the hands of the Europeans.
The painting also European colonization. The torch is the "light" of culture that Europeans are supposedly bringing to the region, while the blindfold symbolizes the "blind eye" that they must turn to complete their activities.
Works Cited
Heart of darkness: Metaphor analysis. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.novelguide.com/heart-of-darkness/metaphor-analysis
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