Metaphors In Heart Of Darkness

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Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, and the film Apocalypse Now uses light and dark as metaphors for mental awareness and for representations of death, evil and emptiness. Edward Said’s book Culture and Imperialism, Chapter one “Overlapping Territories, Intertwined Histories” section 3 “Two Visions in Heart of Darkness” supports the idea of light and dark being used as metaphors. The title, Heart of Darkness, is a reference to the image of the deepest, darkest parts of Africa in terms of the literal darkness in the jungles and to the belief that Africa lacks culture and worth. It also references the metaphorical “darkness” that is found inside of man and in the European colonialists that enslaved millions while benefiting from their resources. The darkness that is always present in the film emphasizes the absence of civilization in Congo.
Early in his novel,
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As he notes at one point, “We penetrated deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness” (Author 395), Conrad is, again, using “darkness” as a metaphor as well as for a literal description of life in the thick jungle. And, finally, Marlow encounters the individual who has fascinated him and driven him forward throughout the entire story, Kurtz, who had famously turned his job running the ivory trade from deep within the jungle into a selfish obsession: “Everything belonged to him – but that was a trifle. The thing was to know what he belonged to, how many powers of darkness claimed him for their own. . . he had taken a high seat amongst the devils of the land – I mean literally. You can’t understand” (Author 406). “Darkness” in Conrad’s novel is both literal and figurative. It is the environment and it is what lies within Kurtz and within those safely back home in London at the headquarters of the company that employs Kurtz and others like him to bring the ivory
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