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Use of Light and Darkness in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness

Use of Light and Darkness in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness

Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness contrasts light and darkness, to represent the civilized and uncivilized sides of the world. Conrad uses light to represent the civilized side of humanity while contrasting the dark with the uncivilized and savage. Throughout the thematic stages of the novel, that is the Thames river London, the company’s office in Belgium, the journey to the “heart of darkness” and the conclusion, light and dark is used to represent these sides of humanity, but on a deeper level many assumptions of darkness and light are challenged, with the appearance of light and dark, and in turn good and evil contrasting with the reality.

From the initial setting, the Thames river, London, on the “cruising yawl” the Nellie, light and darkness are used to symbolize the good and evil side of humanity. Marlow’s tale of the Congo is where light and darkness is used to represent the civilized and uncivilized. Marlow talks of the lights that are reflected in the water, creating the idea that the members of the Nellie are civilized. The lights of London are again used represent the civilized nature of the society, with connotations of “good” coming from the bright lights of civilization. However this is then contrasted with the juxtaposition of the “light”, with Marlow saying – “And this also has been one of the dark places of the Earth”. By saying this Marlow is portraying London as a city with once the same darkness of civilization, of which the civilized Roman’s brought light to. This establishment of light representing the civilized demonstrates the dominant assumptions of the white society, later in the novel it is demonstrated that civilized does no…

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…story. However Conrad also challenges many assumptions of darkness being solely associated with evil, and light being solely associated with good, as throughout the novel the light of the white society is critiqued, representing the evil side of humanity.

Works Cited and Consulted

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. Middlesex, England: Penguin Publishers, 1983.

Gillon, Adam. (1982). Joseph Conrad. Twayne’s English Author Series: Number 333. Kinley E. Roby, ed. Boston: Twayne.

“Joseph Conrad.” The Encarta 1998 Encyclopedia Online. Microsoft, 1998.

Kunitz, Stanley J. “Joseph Conrad.” Twentieth Century Authors: Vol. T. New York: H.W. Wilson Company, 1942. 307-9

Stape, J.H.. The Cambridge Companion to Joseph Conrad. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Taylor, Derek. Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. The Explicator. No.4 Summer 1998: 195-8.

Confusion in Macbeth

Confusion in Macbeth

The instances words and actions needing clarification in Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth are numerous. Let us in this essay look at some of the more serious instances lacking clear meaning in the play.

Lily B. Campbell in her volume of criticism, Shakespeare’s Tragic Heroes: Slaves of Passion,

confesses that critics are at a loss in trying to explain the reference to “Bellona’s bridegroom”:

Macbeth is, indeed, “Bellona’s bridegroom”, though critics seem rather at a loss to know just who Bellona’s bridegroom may have been. (213)

Blanche Coles states in Shakespeare’s Four Giants that there is a common mistake which literary critics of the play make:

Not enough stress has been laid upon Duncan’s unaccountably sudden and arbitrary appointment of Malcolm to the royal succession in the very hour of Macbeth’s triumph [. . .] . The insult to Macbeth (as it may appear to different minds), cannot be overemphasized. (40)

Coles offers an explanation for this ambiguity in the play:

Perhaps Shakespeare was taking for granted that his audience knew that the historian had said, “Duncan did what in him lay to defraud him [Macbeth] of all manner of titles and claims, which might in time to come pretend to the crown.” Malcolm was under age, and this fact made Macbeth first heir to the throne. (40-41)

L.C. Knights in the essay “Macbeth” mentions equivocation, unreality and other possible causes of ambiguity within the play:

The equivocal nature of temptation, the commerce with phantoms consequent upon false choice, the resulting sense of unreality (“nothing is, but what is not”), which has yet such power to “smother” vital function, th…

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…e, NH: Richard R. Smith Publisher, Inc., 1957.

Coursen, H. R. Macbeth: a Guide to the Play. Westport, CN: Greenwood Press, 1997.

Fergusson, Francis. “Macbeth as the Imitation of an Action.” Shakespeare: The Tragedies. A Collectiion of Critical Essays. Alfred Harbage, ed. Englewwod Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1964.

Knights, L.C. “Macbeth.” Shakespeare: The Tragedies. A Collectiion of Critical Essays. Alfred Harbage, ed. Englewwod Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1964.

Mack, Maynard. Everybody’s Shakespeare: Reflections Chiefly on the Tragedies. Lincoln, NB: University of Nebraska Press, 1993.

Shakespeare, William. The Tragedy of Macbeth., no lin.

Wilson, H. S. On the Design of Shakespearean Tragedy. Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press, 1957.

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