Short Story about Boat
After the wrecked boat has been fixed, Marlow and his team start their journey to the inner station through the Congo River. Marlow describes the travel as a journey back to the earliest beginnings of the world (48). In fact, this journey is a forward movement, but it is described as a backward movement. We are given the impression that they are moving away from culture; they are traveling back to their original which is nature. In other words, they are traveling away from light; they travel directly into the heart of darkness. They are penetrating deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness (50).
The travel takes place up the Congo River at night and they are surrounded by a dark forest (darkness and wilderness) which makes this travel looks like they are about to be a rebirth. As a matter of fact, this travel takes place also in the psychological level: these men face a dark and wild place which might turn their mental weaknesses (desire, greed, and violence) against them and turned them savage as well. This wilderness however stands for primitivism and savagery. Also, in the wilderness, most of the scientific knowledge and power become more or less useless. That is, they are traveling to a place where their knowledge is limited. They think they can understand everything thanks to science, but they are moving backwards where everything becomes useless.
How it works
The pilgrims shout “Good God! What is the meaning?” (57), this means that the Europeans find it difficult to understand the darkness and wilderness of the Congo because their cultural experiences do not apply to the Congo’s environment. However, this travel seems like a travel to the ignorance and primitivism. Here, the conflict between light and darkness is shown on the level of the movement up the river: we have light (knowledge and culture) surrounded and overpowered by darkness (wilderness, primitivism, and savagery) of the Congo. We perceive that image of light and darkness contrasted. This journey symbolizes these men in general are moving from light to darkness. The Europeans think that when they go to Africa they move from light to darkness.