Subject Heart of Darkness The novella Heart of Darkness has always raised controversy for the interesting way Joseph Conrad has written it. While some people argue that he was a racist, others allege that he has used racist language only to show that the Europeans who claim to bring ‘light’ to the dark Africa are the really ‘dark’ people…
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At this point the fact to be admitted is that when Joseph Conrad wrote Heart of Darkness, and even at the time presented in the story, the British colonial empire was at its zenith. It enjoyed colonies in Hong Kong, Malaya, India, and Africa. On the one hand, the work allows the reader to look into Congo through the eyes of an imperialist. For example, the very beginning of the novel points out that Thames is “a waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth” (Conrad 6). Thus, some critics argue that this point itself reveals how racist Joseph Conrad is. However, the mere fact is that the novel puts forward the message that even the notion of civilization is an illusion. To illustrate: for Marlow, reaching Congo is a realization of the hollowness of his own notion of civilization. He fails to understand why the cannibals employed on his ship should not eat the other passengers (Conrad 57). Also, he feels that the cannibals possess no morality and conscience so that they can control their own basic animal desires. However, in the same situation, Marlow reaches the conclusion that the people along with him on the ship must not look so appetizing. It is ironic here to note that the same civilized Marlow who believes that the cannibals have no moral values proves that if he were in the position of the Africans, he would do the same, too. In other words, Conrad effectively portrays that the concept of civilization and enlightenment are rather superficial in nature. Despite the so-called civility, there is an underlying beast in humans that just comes out in the right circumstances. In other words, in the case of Marlow, the trip to Africa made him understand the basic animal-like tendencies in humans that thrive in the wild. Also, he realizes the fact that the civility the Europeans try to introduce in the wild is rather phony in nature because the cruelties of the wild are not crueler than the cruelties of imperialism. Admittedly, one cannot deny the fact that Conrad was an imperialist. It becomes evident from the fact that Marlow is highly careful to ensure that he does not fall prey to the charms of the wild as happened to Kurtz. While Kurtz admitted the rules of the wild, Marlow is not ready to descend into that darkness. Thus, one gets the insight that instead of rejecting Western culture and ideals, the purpose of Conrad is to point out that most of the time; the Western society is not functioning in the way it is supposed to function. In other words, the Western ideals fail to perform in a more human way than the ideals of the savages. Another perfect example is the way the slaves are treated by the West. He says “they were dying slowly---it was very clear. They were not enemies, they were not criminals, they were nothing earthly now” (Conrad 42). Again, one has to remember the fact that Conrad resorted to such a statement at a time when imperialism was at the zenith of its power around the world. Though it is possible for critics to claim that one can find fragments of imperialist ideologies in the work of Conrad, they cannot forget the fact that Conrad expresses in clear terms as to how ones morality and conscience will condemn the savagery committed by European imperialism as much as one condemns the savagery of the wild. Here, one gains the insight that Marlow - the conscience of Conrad - is in constant conflict with the
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(“Heart of Darkness Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 1000 words - 2”, n.d.)
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(Heart of Darkness Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 1000 Words - 2)
“Heart of Darkness Essay Example | Topics and Well Written Essays - 1000 Words - 2”, n.d. https://studentshare.org/history/1459579-heart-of-darkness.
Shipments had stopped and they wanted to know why. As he struggles up the river in a broken down steamship, Marlow starts to gain a better appreciation for the realities of imperialism as compared to what it was thought to be back in London. To discuss these deep ideas, he tells the other sailors about them in terms of dark and light symbolizing 'civilized' as opposed to 'primitive' societies.
He conquered Congo, because of its natural resources, especially rubber and ivory. This story focuses on the slave trade and the oppressive conditions in Congo. Marlow’s mission is to bring back Kurtz, a company employee, who failed to come back. Marlow’s journey to the Inner Station exposed realities about the evils of European imperialism and humanity.
The university is after all wild and it is believable that such a forest could have escaped my eyes earlier. I wasn’t scared to enter it since I was fond of adventures. I set foot into it and immediately began to feel warm all over; I began to feel unpleasant and would have left if it hadn’t been for the dwarf who greeted me.
The novel describes the wilderness in Congo, the cruel treatment of the African natives by the Europeans and in turn showcases the act of evil committed by the human beings. The novel is written in the narrative form through the words of the central character of the story, Charles Marlow.
Conrad wrote this novel in 1890s during the time when European placed the darkest sites of the world under their control. Europeans scrambled and stretched their powers outside their continent to far parts of Africa. This novel provides an account of European imperial activities in Congo.
He searched for Kurtz and encountered a man who took him to a realization that he never expected. The novel depicts imperialism in complex ways. Perhaps the clearest illustration of imperialism was when Marlow reached the outer station. Surrounded by slave workers, with large holes filled with broken machines around him, he said that “imperialism is really composed of the bodies he had seen”.
Marlow initially sees Kurtz as a mad man. He realizes that when in the presence of boundless temptations, any man could go a little mad. He sees the very extremes of madness in Kurtz, the man who couldn't hold on to his soul when a chance for its corruption presented itself.
Conrad does not merely decry the excesses of King Leopold II in the Congo, as a more traditional writer might have done (and as indeed many did), but singled out colonialism as subversive of Western identity, as incompatible with and destructive of the ideals upon the West was founded.