W.E.B Dubois’ The Dark Princess is both a stirring account of the problem facing the blacks in the 20th century, and a personal quest for Matthew. However, this quest for self-discovery finds its roots primarily in Europe, where Matthew travels to seek his haven for solace away from the prejudices he faces in the United States.

The reader can see that the characters travel constantly both across and within borders throughout the novel’s discourse. Travel, as marked by its poignant effect, represents the confusion, agitation and conundrum that the characters, and Matthew in particular, face as they transition towards a more coherent version of self-discovery. As Matthew travels to Europe, he is able to find unifying ties and aspects between cultures. However, the contrasts between the varying cultures turn out to be more imperative. The existent contrasts between the United States and Europe give Matthew a vantage to draw parallels between the prejudices he faces in the US, and the relative amicability and inveterate tolerance that are characteristics of Europe and in particular of his experiences in Germany. Dubois narrates, “there were differences—differences he felt with a tingling pain” (7). This shows us that travel serves as a means of identifying various differences that existed between Germany, and the United States in the era. The vast opportunities in Europe remind Matthew of the discrimination that he faces in the United States. Brooding over such differences that led him to flee the US, he recollects this experience as an acerbic one. By acknowledging these differences, however, Matthew in turn acknowledges the fact that a utopian community, where the blacks are held at the same pedestal as the whites, is entirely possible, thereby emanating a new hope for himself and more so for his black fellows. Thus, by travelling across time, space and culture, Matthew exposes himself to a plethora of new values and beliefs, and these beliefs help him challenge his own erroneous notions.

Travel in The Dark Princess therefore represents a leap forward towards self-discovery, and more majorly an undying thirst for fomenting a global change despite the stigma of racism that plagues the US of Matthew’s time. As Matthew further commutes to Harlem, we see that he treads near his own biggest aspiration: to stir an anti-racist movement. Harlem is the precise place for the next African-American movement. By narrating, “he (Matthew) has also left black America—all that he loved and knew” (DuBois 7), Dubois shows the reader that even though Matthew faces stringent racial discrimination and alienation in the United States, he still yearns for his home, and travel further evokes a sense of longing, a sense of yearning, and a deep-rooted sense of patriotism in Matthew. In this regard, travel aids Matthew in his quest for personal discovery, enabling him to find the true patriot and optimist that is hidden deep within him.