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Conrad's usage of imagery in the "Heart of Darkness"

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Introduction

Aristotle, a famous Greek philosopher, said that the aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance. If that is the case, then Joseph Conrad is a true artist regarding the pictures he paints with his words. Conrad's most effective literary tool for plot development and expressing the theme is his use of imagery. Karl, a noted critic, explains this technique that Conrad uses. "The scenes and images (that Conrad depicts) are a variety which permits extension and almost a limitless number of references are possible"(168). His use of imagery is so detailed and accurate, one feels as if they are in the scene he is describing. Conrad's work that best represent his profound usage of imagery is, "Heart of Darkness." In this famous short story, Conrad creates these evocative images of Britain and other parts of the world showing his readers the negative side of humanity. He does this by describing historical events, different races, and the environments in which his characters dwell. Conrad uses imagery in his short story, "The Heart of Darkness," to establish a criticism towards western civilized society and an exploration through the Human Psych. ...read more.

Middle

In addition to the environment, Conrad also uses evocative images to describe the black and white races. Ironically, he was not prejudice towards the Africans, but showed the whites as savages. The Blacks were more civilized and admirable than the British were. Collins notes that Marlow's crewmen were described as cannibals; which means they were man-eaters with whom Marlow could respect (104). Marlow describes them as "fine fellows-cannibals...men one could work with." On the flip side, Collins goes on to explain how the whites were described by Conrad. "Most of the white men Marlow meets do not merit the compliment of the Cannibals"(104). There is no real admirable white worker that is compared to the Blacks that work with Marlow as crewmen. This is true because as Collins goes on, "The Brick maker at the central station makes no bricks...The manager has 'no genius for organizing, for initiative, for order even' and Kurtz 'the prodigy' is the emissary of pity and science and devil knows what else"(105). A lack of work ethic and morals brings Marlow to trust on his black crewmen more than the white British settlers. Another important aspect of the story that Conrad describes is Kurtz as a character. ...read more.

Conclusion

After that incident, he feels guilty saying, "I laid the ghost of his gifts at last with a lie...there is a taint of death...a flavor of mortality in lies"(15). To clarify, Marlow is very upset with himself by lying but thought that it was necessary. Also, Conrad stresses of how bad lying really is with its relation to death. Conrad's usage of imagery in the "Heart of Darkness" portrays the different aspects of life around his time as well as the human mentality. He uses this literary tool to give the reader a historical perception of British imperialism in Africa. Also, he describes the effects of a dark environment on the human heart. Surprisingly, he paints a better picture of the black race than he does with the white race at a time where there was bigotry with the Africans. He also uses imagery to characterize Kurtz which is not often found in the literary world. His philosophies of man is also evident in this story concerning the capability of the mind, significance of work, and the strong belief in the truth no matter how harsh it is. Garnett, an acclaimed critic, summarizes Conrad's usage of imagery by stating that, "the quality of Mr. Conrad's art is seen in his faculty of making us perceive men's lives in their natural relation to the seen universe around them"(8). 1 ...read more.

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