On the surface, Kurtz’s African mistress has nothing in common with his Intended.
They dress and communicate differently, and they take on the opposing feminine roles of fiancée and “other woman.” However, despite coming from vastly different cultures, both women exhibit a fundamental similarity: They exist not so much as characters in their own right, but as reflections of the man they share.
The darkness Kurtz holds within himself mirrors the darkness of the ‘civilizing’ mission itself.
It is unconsciously revealed in the brick maker’s comment on Kurtz: “He is an emissary of pity, and science, and progress, and the devil knows what else.
As Marlow notes, the Pilgrims exhibit many of the savage tendencies of the cannibals.
Again and again, the image of blinding sunlight becomes entangled with the image of darkness: Both conditions hamper our ability to see things clearly.
The darkness in Kurtz’s heart is so strongly suggested that the reader believes him to represent the idea of imperialism, rather than simply the common imperialist.
Taking Kurtz as the picture of the imperialist idea in its prime, the reader is left to see that the hearts of imperialism and Africa both contain corresponding, negative darkness.
Throughout the novel, he presents us with alleged oppositions that turn out to be disconcertingly similar.
Europe, for example, was once as “primitive” as the nineteenth-century Europeans’ image of Africa.