Heart of Darkness

Dichotomies of Light and Dark 12th Grade

"Heart of Darkness" is complex tale constructed through dichotomies of light versus darkness, a core of faith and belief versus hollowness, civilisation versus wilderness. Conrad, whilst purposefully introduces these contrasting binaries, he ultimately dismantles them, eliciting parallels between the civilised and primordial, bringing the duplicities of the colonial rhetoric to the foreground.

The Biblical allusion of a 'whited sepulchre' in Passage one acts as an allegory for the colonial enterprise. On the exterior, civilisation delivers the appearance of 'real work [being] done'; the decadent, extravagant nature of the 'frock-coat' is symbolic of the rhetoric of imperialism and colonialism: offering lofty, splendid ideas of being "a beacon on the road towards better things" and a 'forerunner of change'. However, within the interior of the 'sepulchre', behind the duplicities of the colonial rhetoric, lies a 'dead silence'. The juxtaposition between exterior and interior evokes a sense of hollowness within the colonial enterprise; the deceitful outward show of running an 'over-sea empire' is rendered palpable as Marlow reveals the motive behind the enlightening, civilising mission as 'mak[ing]…coin'; colonial discourse, as...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 747 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 4481 literature essays, 1451 sample college application essays, 183 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in