Comparing Images of Light and Dark

The Free essays given on our site were donated by anonymous users and should not be viewed as samples of our custom writing service. You are welcome to use them to inspire yourself for writing your own term paper. If you need a custom term paper related to the subject of Literature or Comparing Images of Light and Dark, you can hire a professional writer here in just a few clicks.
Look at the Dark Side of Life: A Comparison Between Conrad's and Joyce's Imagery To children, night lights give a sense of security and leave the imagination to rest. The comfort of light is helpful for children who often conjure up monsters that lurk under the bed and ominous shadows from tree branches. Dark scenes are often depicted as the foreboding unknown and things one may not rather learn more about. However, when Jake comes to a divine revelation to reunite the band in the movie, "The Blues Brothers," he hollers, "I see the light!" Joseph Conrad in Heart of Darkness and James Joyce in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man both play off of the motif of light and darkness. Darkness reveals startling truths, and one may choose to accept them or not. Whether these truths are denied will decide if that character will come into the "light." In Conrad's Heart of Darkness, knowledge is received at life's darkest hour. White, which is usually representative of purity, is a symbol of blindness and loss of innocence in this novel. In the beginning, the ship, Nellie, is already in a gloomy mood, setting up the scene for learning the dark past of Marlow. It is ironic that Marlow says that his time with Kurtz "seemed to throw a kind of light," since this journey only expands his mind and soul when drawing deeper into the darkness (10). The women knitting the black pall are compared to the Fates, representing the threatening knowledge of the future. They have already seen men go time and time through "the door of Darkness," and knows the esoteric circumstances that lay ahead for these ignorant, blind men (16). The most ignorant, the accountant, with immaculate white collars and cuffs, is a complete contrast of the "acute angles" of dying blacks. He has absolutely no comprehension of the misery and chaos down the river, asininely telling Marlow "the groans of this sick person...distract my attention" (29). Black symbolizes physical death from starvation and cruelty; white indicates spiritual and moral death through selfishness. Ivory, a shade of white, is the cause of all men's good judgement to be overcome by greed. While onboard, the "savage" cannibals exhibit self-control by not eating the white men, but the white men itch to get out their guns. During these times of imperialism, it is the "white man's burden" to show the example of being "civilized," but Conrad comes to the dark, unfortunate truth that the white men represent unhealthy darkness, hopeless stupidity, senseless cruelty, zealous greed, and ambition. Frequent references to "fierce sunlight" develop this theme. The dark truth that Marlow must come to face is his own wild and savage potential. Marlow must make the decision whether to tell Kurtz's widow, dressed in black, the truth of "the horror" when one reaches the point of all encompassing darkness. He chooses to keep her "blind" from reality, keeping her safe, like a night light (118). All images of light and dark are necessary in the development of an artist, including Stephen Daedalus in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. His development entails revelation, but also the vilest and most base thoughts. An artist has experienced all the "light" and "dark" in life to take a viewpoint that is universal. All images help Stephen to grow: hope and art in light and fear or despair in darkness. In Chapter One, Stephen is naive and scared, as all children are, of the dark and the unknown. This starkly contrasts with his nights in Dublin when filth, sin, and a "cold lucid indifference" ooze from his troubled adolescent soul (110). Another critical passage in Chapter One are the "waves" of fire Stephen sees that flicker on the wall (25). The description is lyrical and metaphorical like an artist's. Stephen's sensory perceptions have started coming into play, which are depicted in light. Later, he takes common clouds and discovers the beauty and a "spectrum" of angles toward understanding life. Stephen's flights of imagination with The Count of Monte Cristo is one to be noted. In the romantic story, Marseilles is bright and sunny, and the house is whitewashed; within is the Platonic vision of Mercedes (65). Joyce is setting up for the contradictory whore house and Stephen's new lusty appetite at the end of the chapter. When "the parlour fire would not draw that evening," this is a dark and brooding moment where Stephen realizes he will have to separate from his father who is holding him back from progress (68). During his journey through sin, nothing appears with the ardent spark or flame of life; his vices quench the stars of hope and "the cold darkness (fill) chaos" (110). Chapter Three is a very pivotal and introspective stage. Stephen keeps above his bed an "illuminated scroll" of the Virgin Mary, yet he uses the same lips of lechery to speak praise upon her (111). He also finds an "arid pleasure" that his first offence is reflected upon all ten commandments. It is puzzling that Stephen is completely aware of his faults, yet feels no guilt. The darkness within him recognizes his selfish desires but not the consequences. But a painfully dramatic homily fills him with remorse, guilt, and self-hatred. Damnation is Stephen's greatest fear, and Judgement Day is mentioned while the sun sets (136). It is not until the light in the chapel appears when Stephen can come to terms with himself. Darkness reveals Stephen's separation from three major hindrances: family, religion, and politics. Meanwhile, light and fiery images r

Our inspirational collection of essays and research papers is available for free to our registered users

Related Essays on Literature

Symbols in Hesse's Demian

In Other Words: Symbolically Representing Transformation A physical transformation is an incredible thing to watch. Whether it is a butterfly emerging from its cocoon, or a child growing up, it is ...

read more
Frederick Douglass: A Fight For Freedom


read more
Winesburg, Ohio: Two Thinkers

Attention, I really screwed up the author's name in this. His name is Sherwood, not Sherwin. I guess that comes from writing the paper at 3am. I actually spent several days rewriting this paper. The p...

read more
Edgar Allan Poe

There are very few people on earth who associate Edgar Allan Poe with happy little children's stories of bunnies and squirrels peacefully frolicking in the fields and flowers. And that is because he ...

read more
Huck Finn: Christianity's Mob Instinct

This paper was written by a junior in the Honors English program. It's the goddamn hardest english class at the whole school. This paper received a borderline B plus, A minus in a 5.0 class, so it cou...

read more

Your Name Frankenstein Mary Shelley writes a classic novel, Frankenstein, which brings up many controversial ideas and beliefs. Mary Shelley hits the nail on the head on how man should act and his ...

read more