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Symbolism in Heart of Darkness

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Mohamed Kandil

on 30 January 2014

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Transcript of Symbolism in Heart of Darkness

Ivory
Ivory, a motif in the novel, is also a symbol which depicts the greed of men and their evil and destructive nature.
I - The symbol is shown through Marlow's description
E - "The word 'ivory' rang in the air, was whispered, was sighed. You would think they were praying to it." (Conrad, 37).
A - 1 - The symbol is shown through the quotations and ivory and how its compared almost to a God.
2 - It matters because by reinforcing its supernatural powers and control over them, the author shows how greed controlled them to the extent where it took over any religious and moral values.
3 - Biggest effect on the characters in the novel because it's the ivory that drove them mad and uncivilized. Kurtz was definitely the most affected to the extent where the ivory was his only companion.

Women
LIGHT AND DARK
I: Symbolism
E: "Sunlight can be made to lie, too" page 50.
"Faithless Pilgrims".
A: in Heart of Darkness, light doesn't necessarily symbolize goodness. As white people are shown as being evil and destructive. Throughout the story, we see black and white merging: the ivory deep in the black jungle; the white-capped woman knitting with black wool (1.24), the Intended as a "pale head" dressed "all in black" (3.53).
River
I: Symbolism
E: “The brown current ran swiftly out of the heart of darkness bearing us towards the sea with twice the speed of our upward progress.”
A: The river symbolized alot of things in the story. One of them is how the river is like a thread between good and bad, good colonies and bad interior. Another one is that the river symbolized danger or horror, as when the snake attacked him and how they got ambushed. The third thing is the dark color of the river, which represented the evil in the river. Also, how the current of the river shows how evil the heart of darkness was, and how it wanted to get away from it, as it was slow towards Congo and faster away from it.
Symbolism in Heart of Darkness
Kurtz
Kurtz "A Christ Figure"
Despite Kurtz being evil, we can still compare him to Jesus in the Bible.
He went to bring morals to a land where there were no morals.
The savages followed him almost like disciples.
Much like Jesus, Kurtz had a voice, and people would listen. When Marlow hears his voice he says, "The volume of tone he emitted without effort, almost without the trouble of moving his lips, amazed me. A voice! A voice (Conrad 127)!"
He died as a symbol.
Kurtz's painting
Marlow encounters a painting during the early stages of his journey that shows a blindfolded woman cast in a black background holding a torch casting a gloomy light on her face. .
The woman represents the Europeans who have come forth to bring “the light” of the torch to the misguided African natives, despite the fact that they are blind to the evil caused by this venture.
Her face has become distorted because, to the natives, the European customs seem rather repulsive.
The painting Marlow encounters early in his journey depicts a blindfolded woman cast in a black background, who holds a torch casting a gloomy light on her face. The painting brings forth a feeling of lady-justice, despite the obvious lack of her presence in Africa. The woman represents the Europeans who have come forth to bring “the light” of the torch to the misguided African natives, despite the fact that they are blind to the evil caused by this venture.
Women are a symbol for an idealistic world as well as the phoniness of society.
I - The symbol is shown through Marlow's description
E - "It's queer how out of touch women are. They live in a world of their own, and there has never been anything like it, and never can be. (Conrad, 8).
A - 1 - "Never be" - Idealistic nature, they are very naive and are not feeling society's true darkness.
2 - Women are barely mentioned, yet they're described as out of touch with reality (showing how society hides its evil so well).
3 - Biggest effect on the themes of evil and hypocrisy because not only do we know they are present, the symbol shows how they are so well hidden and people don't realize the madness and cruelty that society has come to.

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