Literary devices in the heart of darkness

Literary devices in the heart of darkness

Introduction

Literary devices in the heart of darknessJoseph Conrad uses a variety of literary devices in the heart of darkness to make his story come alive, which is ultimately to his advantage. Conrad takes the reader into darkness and shows the corruption of humankind, leaving them to wonder about the absurdity and immorality of evil and imperialism.

The use of imagery is one of Conrad’s strongest literary tools to engage his readers in his novella. Other important literary devices Conrad uses throughout his novel are similes and metaphors, personification and foreshadowing, symbolism, and narrative techniques.

Literary devices in the heart of darkness: Metaphor

Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is set in the last years of the nineteenth century. It follows Marlow as his journey through Africa on the Congo River. Marlow, a thoughtful sailor who travels the Congo River to find Kurtz, is an enlightened sailor.

Marlow is offered a job at a Belgian trading company that works along the river. Marlow witnesses how the Company treats the natives, and attempts to force them to live a civilized life in accordance with European traditions.

Conrad uses the Congo River, darkness, and women to illustrate issues around imperialism and human condition. A metaphor is an item that is compared to another. The comparison of two seemingly unrelated items gives a better description of what is being discussed.

Literary devices in the heart of darkness: Darkness

The novella is dark from the beginning to the end. Even though the sun shines in this novella’s opening, all is covered in darkness. Marlow, for example, says that’sunlight could be made to lie too’, which implies that everything can be seen but is obscured by uncontrollable forces.

The metaphor of darkness is complex and hard to explain, but it appears that it functions as a metaphor for an individual’s inability to understand another person. Conrad’s critique of imperialism extends to darkness, which further represents oppression that is placed on one group by another.

Literary devices in the heart of darkness: The Congo River

The Congo River is a symbol for the negative impact of European countries on African natives. Marlow described the Congo River as a dangerous river, describing it as a coiled snake that is ready to attack anyone who least expects it.

The Congo River is a coiled serpent, symbolizing the African oppressors who are forced into slavery to support the Europeans in their takeover of parts of Africa. This means that the snake will eventually leap out and bite anyone trying to control it.

The Congo River seems to always push intruders from Africa with its currents. The current that flows into Africa is slow and difficult, but the return journey to civilization is quick and easy. The river is a symbol of the Africans’ desire to keep the Europeans out of their homelands.

Literary devices in the heart of darkness: Irony

Irony refers to a type of speech where the speaker or writer says one thing but means another or something else. Irony can add a lot of pungency and wit to an observation. It is also very effective at exposing the follies and vices of women and men.

Heart of Darkness has a lot of humor and satire. Conrad uses ironies throughout the novel to mock imperialism.

Marlow’s descriptions and observations of people, places, and things may contain elements of irony. Marlow’s ironic medical exam at Company headquarters in Brussels, for example, is ironic.

Ironic is the description of the warship shooting its guns without any purpose, as no enemy is visible in a forest and the warship is only wasting ammunition. Irony also exists in the fact, that although white men brought lots of machinery to the Congo, it is still lying unutilized.

Marlow’s description, which describes the white agents as loitering around at the Central Station, Congo, is full of irony, as well Marlow’s description calling these men ‘faithless pilgrims’. Marlow states, “I verily believe that they took these sticks into bed with them.”

This is the most striking irony. Ironically, Marlow portrays Marlow’s uncle as a birch-maker and tries to get information from him. He wrongly believes Marlow has influence on the Company’s higher officials.

Literary devices in the heart of darkness: Imagery: Darkness

Heart of Darkness uses dark imagery in a number of instances to communicate powerful messages, as you can see.

Marlow’s story begins with dark clouds hovering over the Thames at night. This takes away the moonlight, and sets the tone for the entire book.

Marlow then tells us his first visit to the Company’s London offices. “A narrow, deserted street in deep shade, high houses, innumerable Venetian blinds-equipped windows, and a dead silence” This does not sound like a company that is benevolent or kind.

Marlow enters the room and sees Marlow observing ”Two women’, one thin, and one fat, sitting on straw-bottomed seats, knitting black wool. Another ominous or threatening image is the fact that they are both knitting black wool.

Marlow sets sail on a steamship to descend the Congo River under his command, bringing darkness imagery into play. He views the jungle as “so dark-green that it almost becomes black”, turning a jungle most people recognize as lush and beautiful into a terrifying dark monster.

Last but not least is the theme of darkness. Marlow discovers after deepening down the Congo River that they might not be able to return home. “The forest had moved slowly across the water to block our way. We delved deeper into the darkness.

Marlow perseveres regardless of his chances and continues to explore the dark, scary jungle, never knowing what horrors await him. This imagery is reminiscent of the mouth of hell, especially for the Edwardians of England.

Literary devices in the heart of darkness: Imagery: Fog

Conrad makes great use of fog in Heart of Darkness. Conrad uses fog to create a sense of fear and uncertainty about the future. “When the sun rose, there were white clouds, warm and clammy and more blinding than night. It didn’t shift or drive, it was there all around you, like something solid.

Literary devices in the heart of darkness: Symbolism

Literary devices in the heart of darknessThe symbolism of Heart of Darkness is abundant. Heart of Darkness is a story about how everyone and everything has more meaning than we might realize. Conrad’s personal experiences and historical facts are the basis of the novel.

Conrad has attempted to communicate the deeper truths that lie beneath both historical facts and Conrad’s own experiences. Conrad tries to uncover the hidden truths beneath through his novel.

Nearly all of the characters in Heart of Darkness are symbolic. Mr. Kurtz, the central character in the novel is very symbolic. He is the symbol of greed and commercial mentality among white people in the west.

The white colonizers exploited the backward population by allowing Mr. Kurtz to get as much ivory as possible. He also symbolizes white man’s over-eagerness for power. The third symbol of the barbaric influence on civilized men is the transformation he experiences among the savages during his stay.

Because of his long stay on the dark continent, Mr. Kurtz is a savage. This symbolises the irresistible impact of barbarism on a civilized person. It also shows that all human beings have primitive evil instincts, no matter how well-off they may be.

These primitive instincts are his dominant and would eventually rise in a favorable environment, which would then govern his entire conduct.

Marlow’s role is symbolic. Marlow is a symbol of adventure and knowledge. Because of his inherent spirit of adventure, he has made his boyhood dream of sailing on the Congo River and travelling to Congo. His constant contemplation and meditation on what he sees is also a symbol of his philosophical approach to human existence.

Literary devices in the heart of darknessThe characters also have symbolic meaning. Spiritual emptiness is symbolized by the Manager at Central Station. Because he is spiritually barren, he cannot inspire love, respect or fear. He is unable to think for himself and has no clear ideas, but he can complete his manager’s tasks like a machine. There is also the brick-maker, who acts as the manager’s spy and informer.

Marlow refers to him as a “papiermache MephistopheIes”, which is cunning and trickery. There are also a few white agents who wander around the Central Station looking for work because there is nothing else to do. Marlow refers to them as “faithless pilgrims”.

Marlow’s steamer cannibal crew symbolizes efficiency, as they don’t shirk their work. They also symbolize self-control because they don’t try to satisfy hunger with their flesh.

The Fate is the symbol of the knitting women at the beginning of the novel. They determine the fate of all human beings on the planet and seem to have a complete knowledge of everyone who visits the Company’s Officer.

The magnificent-looking native woman who appeared on the riverbank as Mr. Kurtz was being taken from her symbolizes a woman’s loyalty and strong devotion to her lord. Intended, Mr. Kurtz’s fiancee, symbolizes loyalty and the influence of an illusion on a woman’s mind. The Russian, which looks like a harlequin symbolizes curiosity, loyalty, and fidelity.

Conrad also uses symbolic elements as well as characters as part of Literary devices in the heart of darkness. Ivory is a symbol of white men’s greed. The sense of futility, as well as the feeling of aimlessness and futility, is symbolized by the French warship that flies aimlessly through the forest.

The starving native symbolises the sufferings of natives who are not given any sympathy by the white. A half dozen native men are chained together and each one is wearing an iron collar around his neck to symbolize the white man’s dominance over the backward. Conrad effectively communicated the exploitation of Congo’s people through symbolic descriptions.

The white man’s dominance over the backward and ignorant is also a literary devices in the heart of darkness which symbolizes his sway in the chain-gang, which consists of half a dozen native men, each with an iron collar around his neck.

Fog can be seen as a corollary to dark. Fog obscures and distorts. It gives you just enough information to make decisions, but not enough to be able to assess the accuracy of those decisions. This can often lead to incorrect conclusions. Marlow’s steamer gets caught up in fog. He doesn’t know where he is going or whether he will be in peril or open waters.

The description of natural scenery serves a symbolic function. It is a wild and beautiful scene that makes one believe he has travelled back in time to when giant trees were kings. The quiet of the woods and abundance of trees symbolises mystery and honor.

The city of Brussels, in stark contrast to its wild imagery, symbolizes the corruption and civilisation of the white man. Marlow seems to think that the city of Brussels is something pleasant and outwardly beautiful, but it is inwardly rotten. The degeneracy and inhumanity of the white man is thus represented by Brussels.

Literary devices in the heart of darkness: Irony

You may find literary devices that are common in daily life. Irony is one of these literary devices. Irony refers to when you don’t expect the unexpected. Irony is most commonly seen in the form sarcasm. This is where your words are actually the opposite of what they mean. Irony is more common in literature than sarcasm. However, it’s still very popular. Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is a novel that shows irony being used many times.

Literary devices in the heart of darkness: Marlow’s Commentary

Marlow’s commentary is one place where we can see many examples of irony. Sometimes, what he says in one part of the story is not consistent with what we see later. Marlow, for example, compares British colonization to the Roman conquerors at the beginning of his story, and says, “What saves us? Efficiency–the devotion towards efficiency.”

Here, ‘Us’ refers to the British Empire.

Marlow, at Central Station, later discovers the irony in this statement. He claimed that the British were dedicated to efficiency. However, this British-run post is exactly the opposite. Marlow’s steamboat was destroyed before he arrived and, despite having access to supplies at an earlier station for repairs, he cannot get the necessary parts.

The inefficiency of the local population is evident by a man trying to light a fire with a bucket that has holes in it. Marlow’s statement is highly ironic when compared to the reality of Central Station.

Irony is also evident in Marlow’s own statements. He describes how he was able to get his steamboat appointment. This was my chance and it made me more eager to go. Ironically, Marlow would not be more anxious about going if he lost his captain. Marlow’s emotion here is contrary to what he describes.

Literary devices in the heart of darkness: The Company Clerk

Irony is also evident in the opening of the story with the Company clerk. Marlow visits the Company clerk to sign his paperwork to become captain. Marlow describes the meeting as: “As we sat down over our vermouths, he glorified Company’s businesses, and by and large I casually expressed my surprise that he didn’t go out there.

He was very calm and collected at once. He said, sententiously, “I am not so foolish as I appear, quoth Plato for his disciples.”

The clerk spends the conversation praising Company and their work in Congo. You would think that he would then say that he wishes he could go or that he regrets not being there. Marlow is instead told by the clerk that he thinks the people who are going there are foolish or stupid.

This is a very ironic statement, especially when compared to all the praises he gives his Company.

Literary devices in the heart of darkness: Kurtz

Kurtz is the most prevalent irony in the novel. It lasts for most of the book. It begins with Marlow’s descriptions of Kurtz, which he gets from his conversations with different employees of the Company.

Marlow is told by Central Station’s manager that Mr. Kurtz was an outstanding agent, a man of great importance to the Company, and the best agent that he had. Marlow later talks about Kurtz with the brick-maker at Central Station. He said, finally, “He is a prodigy.” “He is an emissary for pity, science, progress, and the devil know what else.”