Themes in Heart of Darkness
Symbolism of black and white/ light and dark
Black/dark- death, evil, ignorance, mystery, savagery, uncivilized
White/light- life, goodness, enlightenment, civilized, religion.
This symbolism is not new, these connotations have been present in society for centuries. We refer to the Middle Ages, when science and knowledge was suppressed, as the Dark Ages. According to Christianity, in the beginning of time all was dark and God created light. According to Heart of Darkness, before the Romans came, England was dark. In the same way, Africa was considered to be in the "dark stage".
Yet, when it is looked into deeper, the usual pattern is reverse and "darkness means truth, whiteness means falsehood" This reversal tells a political truth about races in the Congo, a psychological truth about Marlow and all of us (the truth within, therefore dark and obscure), and any number of moral truths (the trade in ivory is dark and dirty).