An example of appearance versus reality occurs at the beginning of the novella, as the unnamed narrator looks out at the Thames in England, the site of apparent civilization. Marlow says, "But darkness was here yesterday," and reminds the party on the boat that Romans arrived in England, what seemed...
An example of appearance versus reality occurs at the beginning of the novella, as the unnamed narrator looks out at the Thames in England, the site of apparent civilization. Marlow says, "But darkness was here yesterday," and reminds the party on the boat that Romans arrived in England, what seemed like the edge of the world, in what seemed like only a short time ago. Behind the veneer of civilization in England, there lurks a long and dark history. Therefore, the reality of England is different from the reality.
The offices of the Company that sends Marlow to the Congo is also an example of appearances versus reality. Marlow describes his send-off from the company in the following way:
"A door opened, a white-haired secretarial head, but wearing a compassionate expression, appeared, and a skinny forefinger beckoned me into the sanctuary. Its light was dim, and a heavy writing-desk squatted in the middle. From behind that structure came out an impression of pale plumpness in a frock-coat. The great man himself. He was five feet six, I should judge, and had his grip on the handle-end of ever so many millions. He shook hands, I fancy, murmured vaguely, was satisfied with my French. Bon voyage."
The scene is one of opulence and hushed elegance. However, the company is actually engaged in brutality and murder in the Congo. It conducts its business in a professional and formal manner. The office projects the idea that it is civilized and above board. The reality is that its operations in the Congo result in destruction and that the company's doings involve enslavement and murder. What the company projects and the reality of its business are wildly different.
Ivory also represents the difference between appearance and reality, as it is a white substance favored for its beauty. However, its extraction in the Congo is full of darkness and brutality.