The Light is Good and the Dark is Bad

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Updated: Mar 27, 2021
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The Light is Good and the Dark is Bad essay

We are made aware of the importance of light and the story developed by dark and light symbolism, We are moving of the center of light to the heart of darkness There is this interplay light coming out of darkness He utilizes several important literary techniques throughout the story. One predominant method of his storytelling is his use of light and dark symbolism. This paper focuses on symbols of light and darkness and their symbolic meanings to reveal how the author overthrows people’s common understanding of those symbols. Generally, throughout the story, the narrator, Marlow, describes Europe and Europeans in terms of light and white, equating them with knowledge and civility, but he defines Africa and Africans in terms of darkness and blackness, equating them with mystery and savagery.

Light and darkness symbols are infused with special meanings which are contradictory to what they usually mean to readers. One of his most frequently used images was that of contrasts in light and darkness, sunshine and shadow, dark night and bright day. Darkness is inferior to light in every situation The central imagery of the story revolves around the binary oppositions suggested in the title: light and darkness. This imagery sets up a contrast between the “light” white Europeans in Africa, and the ‘ ‘dark” native Africans.

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Likewise, the ‘ ‘light” is suggestive of European “civilization,” while the “darkness” refers to the culture of the African people, which Europeans perceived as ‘ ‘primitive” and “savage The cruising yawl Nellie “swung to her anchor without a flutter of the sails and was at rest. The flood had made, the wind was nearly calm” (HD 27). There is an absence of tension in this description as the elements appear calm and do not threaten the stability of the yawl, which is anchored at bay. The universe seems a peaceful and friendly place.

A comforting feeling is also evoked by the quaint, feminine name of the cruising yawl (Nellie) which, in any case, is hardly the kind of vessel to conjure up images tempestuous seas and life-threatening storms. The opening of Heart of Darkness presents an image of peace and security gradually giving way to a feeling of insecurity and danger. The “sea and sky were welded together without a joint” (HD 27), says the frame-narrator, as though the world represented the infinitely reliable art-work of a benevolent deity. The reassuring qualities of the opening passage are enhanced by a multitude of light references that emphasize the presence of the life “The water shone pacifically; the sky, without a peck, was a benign immensity of unstained light” (HD 28).

These comforting references to the sun-god, however, become scarcer as the night descends over the river Thames, and the Dionysian element rises to the surface with seemingly hostile intent.22 The air above Gravesend is said to be dark and “farther back still seemed condensed into a mournful gloom, brooding motionless over the biggest, and the greatest, town on earth” (HD 27). Here we have the first intimation of conflict between the Apollonian and Dionysian realms: London, the pinnacle of Apollonian civilization, “the biggest, and the greatest, town on earth”, appears to be menaced by the primeval night as if by a Damoclean sword23 hanging over its head. The word “brooding” which is repeatedly juxtaposed to the word “gloom” makes the reassuring peace of the scene resemble the calm before a storm. An echo of this will later be heard in the stillness of the African wilderness which Marlow claims “did not in the least resemble a peace. It was the stillness of an implacable force brooding over an inscrutable intention” (HD 66).

The symbolism of these passages suggest that behind the serene façade of nature lies a mysterious and hostile force ready to erupt at any moment, destroying the peace and security of man. The word “brooding”, used repeatedly in the opening of the tale, reflects the passivity of the powers of darkness as they are always threatening, but never realize their threat, like a storm always gathering but never breaking. The twilight at the beginning of Heart of Darkness can be seen as more than a symbol for the loss of ontological security; in German mythology the ‘twilight of the gods’ (Göterdämmerung) symbolizes the end of the world, the death of gods and men.

Wagner adopts this term as the title for the fourth and last part of the Ring cycle and Nietzsche uses it in the title of his Twilight of the Idols (1889). As darkness falls in the opening of the tale, the objects that usually inspire a feeling of ontological security gradually lose their reassuring qualities, while the benevolent deity responsible for creation appears less and less friendly to humanity. The transformation of day into night is attended by the onset of doubt regarding the phenomenal world and the testimony of the senses in general. London itself, which one would expect to be associated with the light of civilization, is actually dark and menacing, while it is the “gloom brooding” (HD 28) over its inhabitants that appears to have stricken the sun god “to death” (HD 28).

Thus, London is not finally engulfed by the primeval darkness, so civilization can be said to survive the threat posed by the unruly forces of nature. he describes it as “sombre” and “pitiful” and “not very clear.” Here, the light is given attributes that are normally associated with the darkness, while the boundary between inner and outer is blurred as the light illuminates Marlow’s thoughts together with his surroundings.

London: the city of lights, but the author sees some gloom Haze: it is not completely light, the air was dark. You in the center you are in a enlightening place, but for Conrad there is some darkness there. Mournful gloom: he is humanizing, something is wrong. We are bringing light and darkness more or less brought together. We are meant to understand that it is the center of the earth but there is something wrong there, it is the center because of its greatest achievement ; the development of humanity, but is was implicated in the colonization . Light and darkness are brought together living side by side.

The end of the day: sign that the story is going to be told in the night. The story is going to reveal new truth of humanity. It is in darkness that light is hoped to be found. It could be the day of the whole civilization is coming to an end, and something new is in the offing about to begin p 6 In fact, Marlow’s apparently dichotomous judgment on the darkness of the uncivilized pre-Roman London, versus the enlightened civilized Christian London is immediately derogated by his recognition that human history is ruled by some “quivering” or intermittently rhythmical law, whereby the predominant darkness (represented by the Schopenhauerian permanent antagonism between the egoist will-to-live and the pitiless survival of the stronger) seems to coexist with episodic flashes of light (represented by the Platonic cultural drive to socialize the egoist will-to-live and the rational primacy of law over force): “And this also – states Marlow when referring to London – has been one of the dark places of the earth. […] Light came out of this river since – you say Knights? Yes, but it is a running blaze on a plain, like a flash of lightning in the clouds. We live in the flicker – may it last as long as the old earth keeps rolling!” (8)

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The Light is Good and the Dark is Bad. (2021, Mar 27). Retrieved from