Michael Ondaatje has set his novel, In The Skin Of The Lion, using darkness against the night as an important theme. Darkness has become the source of enlightenment for most of the vital characters of the novel who were not deluded by the obscurity of night, but use it to motivate themselves physically and emotionally. Literal darkness enabled them to remove their figurative darkness. Characters like Alice, Patrick, Harris, Nicholas and Caravaggio are developed and revealed in darkness which is ironic. .
Patrick Lewis, Commissioner Rowland Harris, Caravaggio, Nicholas Temelcoff and Alice found the true nature of their characters acting against the pit of darkness. They felt comfortable and fully assured of their surroundings at night. .
Harris's character was revealed in darkness. He was an affluent and ambitious man who had a great desire to construct the city. As Harris was a man who understand the continuity of the city? (110). He always visited the site of construction to observe his majestic monument at night because,For Harris, the night allowed scope. Night removed the limitations of detail and concentrated on form? (29). Harris preferred to interpret his future plans regarding constructions with his chief architect (Pomphrey) during the late hours of night (29). These examples indicate that Harris perceived darkness as a source of enlightenment that leads to optimism, which is again ironic, because murkiness is never associated with motivation and inspiration.
Caravaggio, who was a professional thief and bore an entirely different personality as compared with Harris, demonstrated the same habit of working against the darkness of night. His character was also developed at night. Caravaggio,hated the hours of sleep. At night his wife would sleep in his embrace but the room around him continued to be alive, his body porous to every noise, his stare painting out darkness? (184).