Heart of Darkness
by Joseph Conrad
Heart of Darkness Chapter 1 Quotes
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Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
But Marlow was not typical (if his propensity to spin yarns be excepted), and to him the meaning of an episode was not inside like a kernel, but outside, enveloping the tale which brought it out only as a glow brings out a haze, in the likeness of one of these misty halos that sometimes are made visible by the spectral illumination of moonshine. (1.9)
Up is down, in is out, light is dark, Jon Snow is actually a Targaryen. (What, you don't think that's where George R. R. Martin is going?) Here, Conrad inverts the relationship between light and dark to suggest that you need both light and dark to see.
(Marlow): "Light came out of this river (the Thames) since—you say Knights? Yes; but it's like 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! But darkness was here yesterday." (1.11)
This is essentially a more poetic way of saying that humankind has really only been around for a fraction of a fraction of Earth's history. Conrad associates "light" with humankind—but then immediately undermines all our warm fuzzy feelings about light by using "knights" and "lighting" to make light seem, well, violent and destructive.
(Marlow): "They were men enough to face the darkness." (1.11)
Darkness here represents the unknown and potentially hostile land. Zzzz. This is so conventional that we have to wonder if Conrad really expects us to believe this—or if Marlow's perspective is as flawed as everyone else's.