In, "Heart of Darkness," Joseph Conrad uses the nature of the Congo river as a symbol to express the chaos and condition in the heart of both the conquerors and the conquered. By using symbolism, Conrad deeply explores the overall theme of the dehumanizing and futile aspects of imperialism. Conrad personifies the river to symbolically reflect the feelings of the people being conquered. He says the river has a, "vengeful aspect," but the author does not imply that the river itself desires revenge, but that the Africans desire to take revenge against the cruelty inflicted by the conquerors. In context, the africans have a, "vengeful aspect," since they perceive the invasion as a devastating alteration against their lives due to the mistreatment they receive, therefore dissenting against the authority of the Europeans. Conrad writes about how the river came to have a, "profound darkness," within its heart, implying that all the hatred, disgust, vanity, and poisonous feelings in the heart of the Europeans and the Africans figuratively accumulated in the river. In effect, the author uses personification when Marlow realizes that the river not only appeared, "dark," but also, "hopeless," confronting the fact that the obscurity and pure cruelty of the people involved in imperialism accumulated in their once innocent hearts, making their hearts as, "sunken stones," so deeply inside the darkness that it is impossible to fix the damage if imperialism pervades. .
In another perspective, the river symbolizes the loss of morality as a consequence of imperialism's dehumanization. In a later time, the speaker is shocked by observing that the river and its surroundings are, "so pitiless," implying that the Europeans have a merciless heart, since they frequently see Africans, "dying slowly," as they make the Africans work on deplorable and inhumane conditions.