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Darkness In Nostromo Essay

2709 words - 11 pages

The Darkness in Nostromo

“The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” – John 1:5. Light and darkness are always inverses to one another; both cannot occupy the same place at the same time, and yet neither can be defined without the other. To know the light is to have known the darkness, if one is missing, the other is lost. Darkness is unable to comprehend light, it is unable to understand, it lacks to knowledge. Light in most religions and cultures stemming back thousands of years ago is seen as something that breeds knowledge while darkness destroys all understandings we hold. Nostromo is a modernist novel that enacts the establishment of modern capitalism ...view middle of the document...

Nostromo is also iconic for its anti-imperialism stance that displays the corruption which derives from foreigners having too much power in a country that isn’t theirs. The belief that capitalism brings peace and security to impoverished and unstable countries is one that has backed fired over and over. In Nostromo, the people are just as unhappy in the beginning of the story as they are in the end. Conrad is able to capture the human perspective and lay it out beautifully in a fictitious land, with a made up history. Although it is just a figment of Conrad’s imagination, Costaguana could very well have been a real place based on true events. That is just a testament to how great Conrad was when he put together Nostromo.
Conrad was also very interested in the psychological aspects of people, creating depth to his characters and giving them a past as well as an inherent nature. According to Allen O. McIntyre in his paper, Conrad on the Functions of Mind, “His statements are all the more amazing in that his aim as a novelist was not to initiate his readers into the mysteries of a new dialectic, but simply to clarify the motives of his fictional characters.” (1) McIntyre believes that Conrad wasn’t as interested in the dialog between his characters as much as he wanted to explain the reasoning behind his characters actions and thoughts. Throughout Nostromo we see much of this when Conrad suddenly takes us to a flashback to give us insight on a characters background. All of these flashbacks serve as a motive to his characters behavior throughout the book. This is only made possible because of Conrad’s ability to understand the human consciousness and applying it to his writing. Through this style of writing, we are presented with a much more in-depth look into the reasoning behind the main characters of Nostromo and even relate to them within their respective situations.
The first physical description we get of Costaguana and the Gulf is when the hot midday sun sets, he begins describing the night. This is the first time that darkness is mentioned within Nostromo, so it will serve as a baseline for future references to the darkness. “At night the body of clouds advancing higher up the sky smothers the whole quiet gulf below with an impenetrable darkness”—such a darkness that “The eye of God Himself could not find out what work a man’s hand is doing in there” (7). This introductory passage creates a profound image of the absolute darkness that envelops over the Gulf at night. The darkness is described as impenetrable, as something that is impossible to pass through. By presenting the darkness in this way, Conrad suggests that darkness is impossible to understand. The darkness is something unreasonable, something intangible that cannot be comprehended by man. It goes on to say that God himself would not be able to discern what anyone was doing within the darkness. Here we have created a contrast between light and dark, in which God is represented...

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