check out our:
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)
In this stunning metaphor, Conrad reverses the typical light and darkness imagery. Where light is generally associated with understanding and meaning and darkness with ignorance, Conrad inverts the two. Marlow believes that meaning can only be brought about by comparison; only when light shines can the human eye discern shadow. There is also a play between the internal and external here with the seed metaphor. Only when one understands the outside environment can he begin to understand the dark depths of himself.
(Marlow): "Light came out of this river (the Thames) since – you say Knights? Yes; but it is 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)
Light is associated with mankind’s vitality, particularly with the Knights who were sent out by the crown to discover (and plunder) new lands. However, Marlow says, man and thus light have only existed for a moment compared to how long darkness has been around. Thus, darkness is equated with nature here, and this foreshadows the hostility of the African wilderness.
(Marlow): "They were men enough to face the darkness." (1.11)
Conventionally, darkness here represents the unknown and potentially hostile land.