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Images of light and dark in Joseph Conrads Heart of Darkness and James Joyces Araby - Essay Example

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Imagery of light and dark play important roles in both the writing of Joseph Conrad’s in Heart of Darkness and James Joyce’s in Araby. The primary flow between light and dark is defined by both the flow from civilized ideals to more primitive thoughts, as well as innocence into knowledge…
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Images of light and dark in Joseph Conrads Heart of Darkness and James Joyces Araby

Download file to see previous pages... Imagery of light and dark play important roles in both the writing of Joseph Conrad’s in Heart of Darkness and James Joyce’s in Araby. The primary flow between light and dark is defined by both the flow from civilized ideals to more primitive thoughts, as well as innocence into knowledge. The concept of the primitive in Conrad is seen through the descent into the jungles of Africa where life was more ‘primitive’, where in Joyce the concept of the primitive is understood by the base instincts of sexuality. The narrators of both story begin without the knowledge of how dark the world can be, but are soon immersed in the ‘truth’, revelations that shatter their innocence and replace it with a more corrupted truth in which the world is ‘revealed’. The imagery of light and darkness provide both Conrad and Joyce a metaphor for explaining the past and present as they are changed through revelations that darken the nature of the human experience. The influences of light and dark are rooted in the primitive, the recollections of having had no source other than fire to hold back the terrors of the night. During the day was the hunt, the search for sustenance found in blood and violence, with the night holding back those who would hunt the hunter. The shadows could be demons, monsters, or fear manifested into dangers that kept primitive man huddled against the night. These are the images that are evoked in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. The story begins in the light, but as it progresses, darkness is all that is left. The travel along the river is symbolic of traveling to a primitive past, the flow into the jungle representing a departure from the light of civilization and a regression to a time when savagery was the rule (Carroll 265). Conrad wrote “And the stillness of life did not in the least resemble a peace. It was the stillness of an implacable force brooding over an inscrutable intention” (91). The dark begins to represent a force through which an intention was implied. The light was passing from the experiences of Marlow as he traveled. Fear was engulfing him in such a way that he could not trust anything within the experiences. The darkness was a thing that was alive and acted upon the story as if it were a character. The stillness acted as an agent of the darkness, creating an atmosphere that was thick and oppressive. Marlowe was within an oppressive state that was imposed on him by the nature of the darkening world through which he was traveling and would soon be fully immersed. By the end of the book, the light has abandoned the characters and nothing but darkness existed within the space of their existence. Conrad wrote of Marlow that “I could not tell her. It would have been too dark…too dark altogether” (216). This appears at the end of the second to last paragraph, with the final paragraph reading “the uttermost tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed somber under an overcast sky – seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness” (216). In this case, the personification of the darkness has moved from characterization to a metaphor of the psychology of being in the place. These two concepts, both the personification and the metaphor of the psychology of the environment are steeped within the novel, giving power to the darkness to take from the characters their civilization and swallow them in the dark roots of the primitive. The representation that Conrad creates is that of the differences between innocence and corruption, civilization and the primitive, and the difference that comes from knowing how horror impacts the overall understanding of the world. Light represented a time before knowledge of those horrors existed, with the dark representing what happens to the mind as those horrors are realized. Joyce uses the imagery of darkness through a number of different devices in order to evoke a state of ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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