Reading through the pages of this nineteenth century text, The Heart of Darkness, I was completely engrossed in the dark and brooding world of the Congo basin and the primeval-like forests that breathed alive with fervor. Conrad is a master of words and I especially love his personifications and the various images he presents in his text. Just look at how he describes the Congo river- ” 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 depths of the land”. Oh-ho, this is brilliant. He gives a somewhat a natural perspective of it but infuses it with a sense of mystery and obscurity. Doesn’t it pull your thoughts and vision into the layers of words? Doesn’t the image come alive in your mind?
Here’s another use of personification- “Beyond the fence the forest stood up spectrally in the moonlight and through the dim stir, through the faint sounds of that lamentable courtyard, the silence of the land went home to one’s very heart- its mystery, its greatness, the amazing reality of its concealed life.” I don’t even know what it actually means but I am impressed by this vivid and significant portrayal of how the atmosphere of the forests seems to evoke a gloomy sentiment, affecting its inhabitants in a way (I think). Maybe an interpretation could be that the spirit or quality of the forests dwells within the hearts of the people (i.e. the natives) and this form of connection intertwines their minds and lives into a single thread. They are all a part of another world, another civilization that lived off from the boundaries of European ideals and innovation, alien to the colonists and imperialists who perceived them to be inferior beings because their culture and identity was one that was enshrouded by the mysteries obscure to ideal civilized customs- a heart of darkness. Even the protagonist, Marlow, asserts them to be no other than people with whom he connects a “distant kinship”.
Here’s a third example of his strong descriptions that I like – “Instantly in the emptiness of the landscape a cry arose whose shrillness pierced the still air like a sharp arrow flying straight to the very heart of the land”. Conrad personifies the agonized cry (of a native) not as some sort of abstract noun, but as a dangerous weapon, reaching for something it desires, something it has lost or will lose.
So, this whole paragraph is just a small testimony of this great literary work. I’m not a great writer but there’s so much more I’d like to write about, based on my opinions and interpretations- not from others (well maybe a bit). I’ll be coming back with a few more posts on Conrad’s ingenuity and his Heart of Darkness.