What is the symbolism of white and black in Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad?

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Traditionally, the color black was associated with all that was dark, evil, and mysterious, whereas white represented all that was clean, pure, and holy. White Europeans took these preconceptions with them when they colonized Africa, which they christened "The Dark Continent".

In the eyes of colonialists, Africa was a strange, exotic land full of dark-skinned heathens following bizarre customs. This was not a place which the white light of their civilization had ever penetrated. As part of what they saw as their civilizing mission, European colonialists sought to make Africa considerably more "white," or holy, and a good deal less "black," or mysterious.

Conrad challenges this simple-minded dichotomy between white, or good, and...

(The entire section contains 371 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on February 13, 2020