Simile in Heart of Darkness

Simile Examples in Heart of Darkness:

Chapter 1 3

"like biting something rotten..."   (Chapter 1)

In Heart of Darkness, Conrad provides a wide variety of sensory experiences aside from simply imagery. He uses aural and olfactory cues, and he even appeals to the sense of taste. In this passage, Marlow uses taste, a bodily, physical experience, to relate the feeling of being lied to, an experience rooted in the material realm. Lying disrupts the stability in physical experience that Marlow seeks because it can conceal the bad, the “rotten,” with something that appears to be good.

"waggled to and fro like tails..."   (Chapter 1)

Conrad uses imagery and similes in this passage to reduce the Congolese people to animals. By creating this colonial narrative where one group of people were considered subhuman and needed to be “civilized,” Europeans could justify invasion, extraction of natural resources, and unjust treatment of the colonized. Take note of the other animal-related imagery in this passage.

"interminable waterway..."   (Chapter 1)

“Interminable” is another word for “endless.” and it suggests an almost cyclical nature of events. Note that Conrad uses a simile to compare the Thames, a river in England, to this neverending “waterway”. It is symbolic that this powerful European country is the source of some unspecified, perpetual circumstances.

"they looked as though they wouldn't kill a cat..."   (Chapter 2)

Conrad uses a simile to continue the theme of hollowness and false appearances. He suggests a hollowness in the violence of the Congolese that it is not supported by any real threat. Sight is an important tool used by the Europeans in the novella, because how they perceive their surroundings allows them to sustain their violence. Refusing to view the Congolese as a threat makes it easier for the Europeans to oppress and exploit them.