Of Darkness By Conrad

The imagery of dark and light is never clearly defined but the linkage between
the two in this novel is obviously clear. Light indicates self-knowledge,
civilization and enlightenment. The darkness is in the title and also the major
theme of this book. Darkness represents wilderness, evil and greed. Conrad tells
us about the nature of the human’s heart and how it turns from good to bad.

Since this novel leans toward the dark more than light, the dark will be our
focus of attention. Conrad leaves the meaning of this darkness hazy on purpose.

In clearer terms, you can’t easily reduce the meaning to a couple of
sentences. He (Conrad) hints at and suggests the meaning which was meant for the"civilized" back home (and us) to figure out on their own. This quality I
think was meant to make this event (colonization of the Congo) linger in the
readers mind and make them feel the creepiness of the whole ordeal. One might
think that darkness in this novel refers to the Congo, the African people who
live there, how they lived in ignorance, behaved savagely and brutally. This all
might be true and to a certain degree should be true. So far darkness is used as
a symbol of ignorance and primitiveness. Darkness could be clearer to us if we
looked at it from a different angle. Darkness could be a symbol of the white
man’s heart, which claims to be an agent of European light that comes to the

Congo to save the Congo, though in reality it is the white man who kills the

Congo. It is the white man that enslaves the habitants of the Congo meanwhile
criticizing them as uncivilized and savages. Ironic, coming from the mouth of a
slave owner. It is also the white man who is in the Congo to make money,
following the greed of his heart, which is evil and thus dark. This all comes
from the heart. The heart that starts out good (for most) and from the evilness
of greed slowly turns black and wretched. To sum up, two concepts of darkness
are to be found in this novel. One is natural (environmental) and has no real
effect on us unless we let it. The other concept of darkness comes from within
the heart, which is almost impossible to avoid and in the end will be the real
downfall of all mankind. In conclusion, we could say that darkness becomes more
dangerous when it is found within the heart. It (darkness) is the wilderness
inside all of evil, greed and us. Humans have accomplished so much but have not
gained respect towards one another. We have no right to call ourselves
civilized, because almost every civilized country has done what has been done to
the Congo in order to be considered civilized.