Congo river plays a vital role in “Heart of Darkness” and it cannot be underestimated. Joseph Conrad is a well-known novelist. His two major techniques “imagery and symbolism” remarkably describe his writing style. Although he is considered romantic yet it can never be ignored that “Heart of Darkness” is based on his real experiences. imaginary of “Heart of Darkness” is far better than romantic poets but it symbolic significance is horrified. For instance, Congo is not only a country but fear in itself. Joseph Conrad expresses his views about it in following words:-
“It had become a place of darkness. But there was in it one river especially, a mighty big river, that you could see on the map, resembling an immense snake uncoiled, with its head in the sea, its body at rest curving afar over a vast country, and its tail lost in the depth of the land.”Heart of Darkness
The writer through his fictional character Marlow does not see the river as simple as a layman see it nor he amuses us by its beauty but he tells us about its darkness as well is its horrible lucidity. The dangerousness involved in it has been illustrated in detail by the writer. The river has been described in shape of a coiledsnake, who has taken all the inhabitants of the village in his grasp. When we talk about the Congo, we will mention it as river for the reason that it has been mentioned by the writer in the novel. At the time of publishing of novel, neither Congo was a country nor it was a State but a terrible river as painted by the writer in “Heart of Darkness”. Thus, the description of river is mentioned in an unexpectedapproach by the writer, who has full fledge knowledge and experience about it. Apart from the vivid imagery, there is also symbolic representation of the river. The river is not merely a simple waterway but something more than that. At that time, when the white men colonized the South African countries, the river was the only thoroughfare to connect Whiteman with the African inhabitants. They used the river for the purpose of transportation. The business of ivory was done through this river. When Marlow along with his companion wasgoing through this river, his steamboat was running slow, which is giving Marlow a hidden message to be aware from the upcoming Pandora box of infinite hurdles, being faced by the African people. It symbolizes that Marlow should go back instead of going further. In contrast to the same, when Marlow comes back to his city, the speed of same steamboat increased, clearly differentiating between the Whiteman’sand African people’ reality.
In addition, the river also plays a role of divider. It wants to separate Marlow from the evil and cunning ways of Kurtz. It is the only river, which allows Marlow to see both sides of the continent. The difference between so-called civilization and humanity. The difference between evil and good. The difference betweenWhitemenand African people. In literature, mostly sea symbolizes for life and in the same way, Congo riveris the symbolism of life. It also symbolizes good and evil as the life is mixture of good and bad deeds. Another important fact to be noted here, about the sea, is its symbolic significance. We see, Marlow reaches in the heart of Congo river and it is much time consuming, giving us hint about ourselves that it is harder to see our innersoleas it takes time to recognize our inner situation.
Another important aspect, which is necessary to be seen from the other side regarding river, is the fog, which Marlow and his crew faces on the way to meet Kurtz. Marlow, with good intentions, goes to meet Kurtz as he is thinking that what he is going to do is totally right but that is not the case. Apparently, he is seeing things with his own observation, experience and mind but he does not know what he and his crew are going to face. Thus, the fog on the river symbolizes for the unexpected hurdles, which Marlow is going to face, while moving further on the way to meet Kurtz.
With these observations, the Congo river has some more meanings than a simple river. In fact, it is the darkness. Being readers, we can imagine a coiled snake, symbolizes for the threats, which can threaten Marlow on his way to his destination. Besides the concrete world, Congo rivers presents many more things, which are not hard to understand being student of literature. Writers, especially the novelists, know the importance of vivid scenes in their art and Joseph Conrad while keeping in mind the whole situation and imagery has written this novel and the same concentrates on the importance of Congo river. Consequent thereupon, without knowing deeply about this specific river, a reader cannot get the real perspective of this novel.
- What is the importance of Congo itself-country and climate in the novel “Heart of Darkness”?