Metaphor in the heart of darkness

What is a metaphor?

Metaphor in the heart of darknessBefore identifying how Conrad uses metaphor in the heart of darkness, learners must first understand a metaphor. A metaphor is a type of speech that compares two things by saying one thing is the same. A metaphor can be expressed explicitly as in the sentence “Love’s a battlefield”. Sometimes, however, the writer might implicitly make this comparison between two things, such as “He was wounded in love.”

Metaphors are not intended to be taken literally. Metaphors, on the other hand, are figurative. They create meaning beyond what their words mean. These examples, for example, do not imply that love is a battlefield or that the person suffered a physical injury.

They show how love can be difficult, a struggle, or even a showdown among opponents. And–as many metaphors do—-through their comparisons, they make description more vivid, more relatable, or open up new ways to see the word.

The title as a metaphor in the heart of darkness

Metaphor in the heart of darknessHeart of Darkness is a dark title that promises to deliver what it promises: reflections on the nature of evil. You know, like Wicked but without the dance and song. “The heart of darkness” is not just a geographical location (inside Africa), it also refers to a mental state and the dark consequences of imperialism (the European takeover of the world during the 15th to 20th centuries).

Conrad was a fan of metaphors. The text refers to the deep jungle in Africa as the “heart of darkness” because of its hostile, wild environment and the presence of certain non-European customs like cannibalism.


Why is the African jungle called “dark?”

There isn’t much light there due to the dense foliage and mists. This is the obvious answer. The deeper answer lies in the fact that the wilderness renders men metaphorically blind to their surroundings and situation. You can’t do any good in the darkness. You can only choose to be eviller.

Different types of metaphors

Studying metaphor in the heart of darkness helps students understand that there are many types of metaphors that can be included in the umbrella term “metaphor”. Here are some important examples:

Conventional Metaphors sound exactly like they do. They are metaphors that have become so common that people don’t even notice their existence as metaphors. When we say someone is an expert in their “field”, it is a common metaphor for “area or study” or “profession.” It’s so frequent that we don’t realize that we are referring to a physical field. According to some sources, a dead metaphor is a conventional metaphor that has lost its effectiveness or ability to influence thought. However, the concept of “dead metaphors”, as it is commonly known, is controversial. Many people believe that just because something becomes unconscious doesn’t necessarily mean it’s dead.

Contrary to traditional metaphors, creative metaphors are new comparisons that draw attention on their status as metaphors. This Rita Rudner quote is a creativity metaphor: “Before meeting my husband, I hadn’t fallen in love.” It had been a few times that I’d tried it. Rudner is here twisting and playing with “falling in love” metaphor to emphasize that it is a metaphor. Then she creates a new metaphor of her own. She’s a comedian, so she’s doing it for laughs.

Mixed Metaphor refers to a combination of several incongruous comparisons. They can happen by accident, or writers may combine incompatible metaphors to create a humorous effect. The mixed metaphor “He was born in silver” is an example. It combines the metaphors of “To be born in silver” (meaning to be born privileged) with “To put one’s foot in one’s mouth” which means to make a bizarrely funny hybrid. Catachresis is often used to refer to mixed metaphor.

Extended Metaphors are metaphors which continue or are extended across multiple lines within a paragraph or verse. This kind of complex metaphor is also known as a “conceit.” This is an example extended metaphor. Martin Luther King’s speech “I Have a Dream” contains the following quote. MLK expands on the original metaphor of “cashing a cheque” in each sentence.

“In a sense, we’ve come here to cash a check. The Declaration of Independence and Constitution were written by the architects of our republic. They signed a promissory notice to which all Americans would be entitled. This promissory note promised that all men, both black and white, would have the “unalienable rights” of “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”. It is now obvious that America has not kept this promise …”.

Absolute metaphors are metaphors where the tenor cannot be distinguished from its vehicle. The metaphor cannot express the meaning of the metaphor explicitly. One example is “Life is a journey.” Life is a journey. We are constantly comparing it to life, sometimes without even realizing it. This metaphor begins to shape our perception of life and makes it a reality that is impossible to explain without it.

Conrad’s use of metaphor in the heart of darkness

Metaphor in the heart of darknessThe text of Heart of Darkness presents many metaphors to the reader. The most striking and extraordinary metaphors are light and dark, nature, Kurtz, Marlow, and others that are repeated. The repeated use of images that show light and dark is a sign of civilization and primitiveness. It also represents the eternal meanings of good and bad.

The more the reader digs, the more complicated the meaning will be. There are also many meanings behind the metaphors for nature in the text. This is often a challenge for the settlers and can also refer to the decline or degeneration. Finally, Kurtz and Marlow represent imperialism as well as settlers. These metaphors are a part of the overall sense and help the reader to see the bigger picture.

The reader is immediately greeted by dark images and bright images from the moment Marlow speaks. However, it should be noted that the darkness seems dominant. Binary oppositions are the light and dark. They represent civilized and uncivilized, as well as good and evil. The original “wild” were described as being dark both in skin tone and attitude. Marlow refers to the natives during the first season as “black shadows disease and hunger”. (Conrad 20, 20).

Marlow is shocked by the images he sees through the darkness, and this is what the text shows. Both of these examples are great examples of negative attitudes towards indigenous peoples throughout this book. The metaphor of his supposed incivility, evil, and primitive nature is the darkness of Indians. If the reader digs a little deeper, they will see that this darkness can also be a symbol of some innocence.

The river as a metaphor in the heart of darkness

The book’s main setting is the Congo River. Marlow, the novel’s narrator, spends months traveling up the river to find Kurtz (an ivory trader who disappeared deep in the heart Africa). Marlow’s emotional, internal journey to find Kurtz is represented by the river.

Conrad spoke of the river as a whole:

“The river that ran along its length remained unaffected by the decline of time, after many years of good service to the people who populated its banks. It spread in the serene dignity of a waterway that leads to the ends of the Earth.”

He also wrote about the men who followed the river as a metaphor in the heart of darkness

“Hunters after gold, or pursuers to fame, they had all gone out on that river, bearing the sword and sometimes the torch, messengers the might within the country, bearers of a spark of the sacred fire, and carrying the sword. It was not possible for greatness to have floated in the mystery of an unknown land on the ebb of that river.

He also wrote about the drama of life and death that unfolded on its banks as a metaphor in the heart of darkness.

“In and out rivers, streams in death in life, which banks were rotting into mud, whose waters thickened with slime invaded the contorted Mangroves, which seemed to writhe towards us in the extremity a despair.”

Metaphor in the heart of darkness: Nightmares and Dreams

Metaphor in the heart of darknessMarlow’s story takes place in London. He tells the tale to friends aboard a boat that is anchored on Thames. His adventures in Africa are described alternately as dreams and nightmares, to try to get his listeners to conjure up the images he saw during his trip.

Marlow spoke to the group about the emotions that his time in Africa had evoked.

“We didn’t stop for long enough to make a specific impression, but a general feeling of vague and oppressive wonder overtook me. It felt like a weary pilgrimage amid hints for nightmares.

He also spoke about the continent’s spawn as a metaphor in the heart of darkness

“The dreams and seeds of men, the commonwealth seed, the germs for empires”

He tried to recreate the dreamlike quality of his African experiences while living in London.

“Do you see him?” Are you able to see the story? Are you seeing anything? It appears that I am trying tell you a story about a dream. This is a futile attempt to convey the dream-sensation. That commingling, of absurdity and surprise in a tremor or struggling revolt, the notion of being captured with the unbelievable, which is the essence of dreams, cannot be expressed by any dream relation.

Metaphor in the heart of darkness: Darkness

Metaphor in the heart of darknessThe 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 even what is visible can be obscured by uncontrollable forces.

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

As the title suggests, the novel’s central theme is darkness. Africa was once considered the dark continent due to its mystery and the brutality that Europeans expected. Marlow discovers Kurtz and sees him as a man with a heart of dark. The novel is littered with images of scary, dark places.

Marlow spoke about two women who welcomed visitors to his offices. They seemed to be able to predict the fate of everyone who enters and to not care.

“Often far away, I thought of these two. They were knitting black wool as a warm pall. One introduces, introduces continuously to the unknown. The other examines the cheerful and foolish faces with unconcerned eyes.

The image and shadow of darkness are part of metaphor in the heart of darkness.

“We reached deeper and deeper into darkness’s heart.”

Metaphor in the heart of darkness: Colonialism and Savagery

The novel is set at the height of colonialism when Britain was the most powerful colonial power in the world. The European powers, including Britain, were thought to be civilized while the majority of the rest of world was thought to be inhabited by savages. These images are all throughout the book.

Marlow found the sense of savagery real or imagined to be suffocating.

“In an inland post, feel the savagery. The utter savagery had closed around him

What was most mysterious was to be feared.”When you have to make accurate entries, you start to hate the savages. Hate them to death.” Marlow and Conrad could, however, see the negative effects of their fear of “savages”. “The conquest, which mainly means taking it away from people with a different complexion and slightly flatter noses than us, isn’t a pretty thing if you look too closely at it.”

Metaphor in the heart of darkness: The Congo River

Metaphor in the heart of darknessThe 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 river is a coiled snake that represents the oppressed Africans who have to work under slavery-like conditions in order to support the Europeans’ 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, arduous, but the return journey to civilization is quick and easy.

The river is a symbol of the Africans’ desire for the Europeans not to return to their homelands.

What does the metaphor of the heart of darkness mean?

Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is set in the last years of the nineteenth century. It follows Marlow as it travels through Africa via the Congo River. . Conrad uses the metaphors of darkness, the Congo River and women to express concerns about imperialism and the human condition.

What is a metaphor to describe darkness?

These quotes from Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, demonstrate perfectly how darkness and light can be used in English (and other languages) as metaphors. Darkness indicating ignorance, evil, and unhappiness, while light indicating knowledge, purity, and happiness.