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Heart Of Darkness Imperialism Essay

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Heart of Darkness: Criticism of European Imperialism
The claim of the Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe that Heart of Darkness is “offensive, deplorable”, “sets Africa up as a foil to Europe” and glorifies European colonization is not true. Achebe further claims that the book’s writer Conrad hardly provides any hint at Heart of Darkness being ironic or critical of imperialism, which is absolutely strange because the book has many examples of Conrad being ironic, through the voice of its main protagonist Marlow. In fact, the book should be read as a good criticism of the European imperialism and unjust commercial exploitation of the African lands, through the false pretenses of religion.
Marlow’s disapproval of his aunt’s comments about Africans,
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The author Cedric Watts wrote that “The cannibals resist the immediate chance to prey on the Europeans – yet the Europeans are, in their own way, preying on the natives, metaphorically and literally” (Watts 90). This “characteristic paradoxicality” should prove that Achebe’s literal interpretation of the book is not effective in determining the hidden meanings of Conrad’s writing (Watts 90). The irony implied here clearly shows Conrad’s criticism of the so-called European holy mission that made Kurtz and the Company worse than the Cannibals. While it appeared offensive and deplorable to Achebe, one should not necessarily draw such conclusion, given the evidence found throughout Heart of Darkness of exactly the opposite. Conrad was actually criticizing the European imperialism and its exploitation of the African lands for profit making purposes while calling it a holy mission. Achebe probably looked at the literal meanings of the text but failed to comprehend the criticisms Conrad tried to deliver through Marlow’s journey and first-hand experience of the
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