Heart of Darkness
Heart of Darkness
by Joseph Conrad
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Heart of Darkness Symbolism, Imagery & Allegory

Sometimes, there’s more to Lit than meets the eye.

Light and Dark

Put away your yin-yang posters: in Heart of Darkness, light doesn't necessarily symbolize pure goodness or pure enlightenment. In fact, Conrad's vision is so dark that we're not even sure he fully...

Two Knitting Women

These aren't harmless old grannies knitting acrylic baby blankets by the fireside. Not at all. Check out the description of them:In the outer room the two women knitted black wool feverishly. Peopl...

Flies

This one's practically a freebie: flies have been symbolizing death ever since flies hung around dead bodies (so, forever). Slightly more recently than "forever"—but also a long time ago—the de...

Heads on Sticks

The heads-on-sticks symbolize Kurtz's excessive brutality and they're the final clue we need to decide that, yep, Kurtz is mad.The appearance of these heads-on-sticks is the graphic climax of the b...

Language

Like everything else in this novel, language is a mixed bag. On the one hand, Marlow sees Kurtz's eloquence as a redeeming feature—but it's also the reason he goes mad. In the end, he's "very lit...

The Accountant

When Marlow meets the accountant, he's stunned:I met a white man, in such an unexpected elegance of get-up that in the first moment I took him for a sort of vision. I saw a high starched collar, wh...

The Doctor

Before heading to Africa, Marlow has to visit a doctor. We only see the guy for a few minutes, but he gives us unpleasant feelings—and Marlow, too. he's not a symbol so much as an agent of foresh...

Kurtz's Painting

At the central station, Marlow sees a painting, "a woman, draped and blindfolded, carrying a lighted torch. The background was sombre—almost black. The movement of the woman was stately, and the...

God Imagery

In the "Character Analysis" for both Marlow and Kurtz we talked about how Conrad compares both men to gods. But it's not that simple. (We hope that doesn't come as a surprise.)So, let's try to unpa...
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