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light imagery in Heart of Darkness

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andrew fugate

on 12 December 2012

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Transcript of light imagery in Heart of Darkness

Light imagery
Heart of Darkness “The water shone pacifically; the sky, without a speck, was a benign immensity of unstained light; the very mist on the Essex marsh was like a gauzy and radiant fabric” (2) “It was the farthest point of navigation and the culminating point of my experience. It seemed somehow to throw a kind of light on everything about me -- and into my thoughts.” (5)

“After all, that was only a savage sight, while I seemed at one bound to have been transported into some lightless region of subtle horrors, where pure, uncomplicated savagery was a positive relief, being something that had a right to exist -- obviously -- in the sunshine.” (33) The Congo River is the absolute opposite of the clean, "civilized" world of London. Marlow uses words like gloomy and indistinctly, which create the opposite image as we see in London and the Thames. “Dark human shapes could be made out in
the distance, flitting indistinctly against the gloomy border of the forest” (35) Kurtz went into the inner station to lead it and to bring
some European "light" to this area of Africa. His light heart symbolizes
his innocence from before he went into
the Congo and let go of the principals that Marlow began to learn
and that Joseph Conrad was fighting for. It appears he had persuaded a Dutch
trading-house on the coast to fit him out with stores and goods,
and had started for the interior with a light heart and
no more idea of what would happen to him than a baby.
(28) “The point was in his being a gifted creature,
and that of all his gifts the one that stood out … was
his ability to talk, his words … the pulsating stream of light,
or the deceitful flow from the heart of an
impenetrable darkness.” (23) When Marlow arrives in Africa he takes in the beauty of the country but also realizes the darkness and evil hidden within. This also happens in England when Marlow describes the dark fog of London beyond the brilliantly shining Thames. I saw him extend his short flipper of an arm for a gesture
that took in the forest, the creek, the mud, the river -- seemed to beckon
with a dishonoring flourish before the sunlit face of the land a treacherous
appeal to the lurking death, to the hidden evil, to the profound
darkness of its heart. (10)

Only the gloom to the west, brooding over the upper reaches, became more sombre every
minute, as if angered by the approach of the sun. (2) “The room seemed to have grown darker,
as if all the sad light of the cloudy evening had taken
refuge on her forehead. This fair hair,
this pale visage, this pure brow, seemed surrounded
by an ashy halo from which the dark eyes looked out at me.” (47)

All this light imagery shows that
not only is the Congo dark in the
mind of Marlow, but it has the power to take the "lightness" out of the minds of Europeans like Kurtz and Marlow himself. Andrew Fugate The Thames river, to Marlow, is the epitome of the "light" in this book. He describes it as bathed in sunlight and shining brilliantly, creating vivid images in the mind of the reader that all symbolize the good side of Marlow's world. These quotes show more contrast between Marlow's thoughts while he is in England and his impression when he reaches the Congo. This expedition is the high point of his life of exploration and it puts "light" everywhere. When he reaches the Congo, however, he realizes the savagery and lightlessness of the world he had just encountered. This quote also highlights both Kurtz's benefits and his shortcomings in the eyes of Marlow. Marlow came to realize that the imperialism of King Leopold was evil or "dark." Marlow is saying that Kurtz can be very charismatic in his words and leadership so the pulsating light is a metaphor for his strong ability to lead men but the deceitful flow from the heart of an impenetrable darkness is Marlow's view of the evilness of Kurtz's support for the colonization of Africa and the ivory and rubber industries there. Kurtz's fiancee is mourning the death of Kurtz at this time and the whole room becomes dark as she begins to talk about him. She surely blames the country and the darkness within for the loss of her fiancee and that is what the darkness of the room symbolizes. Works cited
"PHOTOS: Wild Africa Honored on World Environment Day." National Geographic. National Geographic, n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2012.

"Places To Visit Before They Disappear." ForUsToBe Places To Visit Before They Disappear Comments. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Dec. 2012. <http://www.4us2be.com/uncategorized/places-to-visit-before-they-disappear/>.
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