Every great author posses the ability to create a novel deeply woven in symbolism and subliminal messages. Underneath the literal journey encountered in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness lies a tale saturated with subtle, yet, significant imagery that brings forth the true meaning of the novella. Throughout Heart of Darkness Conrad uses a plethora of simple colors, objects, and places to convey multifaceted images and ideas. His fine execution of the tools of the English language allows him to quickly lure the reader aboard the Nellie and not release him until the horror is over. Although the interpretation of symbols in the Heart of Darkness is elaborate, due to their simplicity they are often overlooked. .
An overriding series of symbols in Heart of Darkness is the ongoing contrast of white and black, dark and light, and respectively holding representations of good and evil. Amongst most literature white/light relates to a civilized community and black/dark denotes savagery. However, Conrad often depicts many things usually associated with light to be dark in coincidence with the glittering light shed on dark images. Conrad illustrates the wrath of Europe, "And this also has been one of the darkest places of the earth." (Conrad 18) Furthermore, Conrad's frequent symbolic combination of life and death is a parallel to light and dark, echoing the fact that the two must exist simultaneously - there cannot be without the other.
Blatant, but often passed over is the symbolism of the number three in Heart of Darkness. First, notice that the book is divided into three chapters. From there Conrad only lets Marlow break from the story three times to let the unnamed narrator speak. As the journey through the Congo progresses it halts its journey at three stations-Outer, Central, and Inner. The triads do not end here, but persist through the characters in the novella. Though they play an integral role in Heart of Darkness only three women are mentioned principally-the intended, Marlow's Aunt, and Kurtz's mistress.