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

Essay by Jimmy99High School, 12th grade April 2004

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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 of darkness and light is developed throughout the novella, revealed by the disparity between Europe and Africa, portrayed more specifically between the two secondary symbols: the European woman - "His Intended", and the African woman - his mistress.

These two women innocently serve to identify the difficulty in distinguishing between darkness and light, the appearance and reality of humanity. And as Marlow inexorably discovers in his revelations, underneath the shell of each and every human being there is a primordial "Heart of Darkness."

The native African woman represents the entire Black identity and the magnificence of the wilderness, both of which were invaded by the "brutal but civilised" White Europeans. She is the passionate reality, being "savage and superb, wild-eyed and magnificent", almost reminding the Europeans of their prehistoric Black heritage and their own culture. I believe the act of throwing her arms to the sky could symbolise a outcry to an antique Divinity to restore the original Time when the land had not raided and there was peace and freedom. Kurtz's mistress is recognized as a product of the wilderness,