Heart of Darkness

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Dark and White Symbol Icon
Darkness is everywhere in Heart of Darkness. But the novella tweaks the conventional idea of white as good and dark as evil. Evil and good don't really apply to Heart of Darkness, because everyone in the novella is somehow complicit in the atrocities taking place in Africa. Rather, whiteness, especially in the form of the white fog that surrounds the steamship, symbolizes blindness. The dark is symbolized by the huge and inscrutable African jungle, and is associated with the unknowable and primitive heart of all men.
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Dark and White Symbol Timeline in Heart of Darkness

The timeline below shows where the symbol Dark and White appears in Heart of Darkness. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1
Colonialism Theme Icon
The Hollowness of Civilization Theme Icon
The Lack of Truth Theme Icon
Suddenly Marlow interrupts the silence. "And this also," Marlow says, "has been one of the dark places of the earth." He imagines England as it must have appeared to the first... (full context)
The Hollowness of Civilization Theme Icon
...unnamed European city where the Company has its headquarters. He describes the city as a "whited sepulcher." (full context)
The Lack of Truth Theme Icon
...least "see more than I could then." The Narrator observes that it was now so dark they couldn't see Marlow at all. (full context)
Part 2
Colonialism Theme Icon
The Hollowness of Civilization Theme Icon
The Lack of Truth Theme Icon
Racism Theme Icon
The morning reveals a thick white blinding fog enveloping the ship. A roar of screaming natives breaks the silence, then cuts... (full context)
Part 3
The Lack of Truth Theme Icon
...he just couldn't get himself to tell the Intended the truth—it would have been too dark. (full context)
Colonialism Theme Icon
The Hollowness of Civilization Theme Icon
The Lack of Truth Theme Icon
...the "uttermost ends of the earth," seems to lead "into the heart of an immense darkness." (full context)