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An Analysis of Thomas Marlow in Characterizing Events, Ideas and Location Throughout His Narrative in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness
Word Count: 1,826
Throughout his narrative in Joseph Conrads Heart of Darkness Thomas Marlow characterizes events ideas and locations that he encounters in terms of light or darkness Embedded in Marlows parlance is an ongoing metaphor equating light with knowledge and civility and darkness with mystery and savagery When he begins his narrative Marlow equates light and therefore civility with reality believing it to be a tangible expression of mans natural state Similarly Marlow uses darkness to depict savagery as a vice having absconded with nature But as he proceeds deeper into the heart of the African jungle and begins to understand savagery as a primitive form of civilization and therefore a reflection on his own reality the metaphor shifts until the narrator raises his head at the end of the novel to discover that the Thames seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness The alteration of the light-dark metaphor corresponds with Marlows cognizance that the only reality truth or light about civilization is that it is regardless of appearances unreal absurd and shrouded in darkness Marlow uses the contrast between darkness and light to underscore the schism between the seemingly disparate realms of civility and savagery repeatedly associating light with knowledge and truth darkness with mystery and deceptive evil When Marlow realizes that his aunts acquaintances had misrepresented him to the Chief of the Inner Station Marlow states Light dawned upon me as if to explicitly associate light with knowledge or cognizance It is significant then that Marlow later associates light with civilization He describes the knights-errant who went out from the Thames to conquer the vast reaches of the world as having brought light into the darkness flanked with figurative torches alongside their swords bearers of a spark from the sacred fire That Marlow directly correlates knowledge and light and light and civilization necessarily implies that Marlow seeks to correlate knowledge and civilization In a word Marlows delineation of the British imperialists implies
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