Heart of Darkness: Futility of European Presence in Africa

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Heart of Darkness: Futility of European Presence in Africa
Joseph Conrad 's Heart of Darkness is both a dramatic tale of an arduous trek into the Belgian Congo at the turn of the twentieth century and a symbolic journey into the deepest recesses of human nature. On a literal level, through Marlow 's narration, Conrad provides a searing indictment of European colonial exploitation inflicted upon African natives. By employing several allegoric symbols this account depicts the futility of the European presence in Africa.
One of the first glimpses into the frivolous occupation of Africa by the Europeans is seen when Marlow recounts his journey to Africa aboard a French steamer. The immensity of Africa is describe as "The edge of a colossal
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The sheer guise of philanthropical charity scarcely conceals the colonist’s true objective, the hunt for ivory. The colonists attempt to extinguish any and all forms of African culture in their wild quest for ivory. One night while at the camp, Marlow witnesses a fire engulf a shed housing trading goods. “One evening a grass shed full of calico, cotton prints, beads, and I don’t know what else, burst into a blaze so suddenly that you would have thought the earth had opened to let an avenging fire consume all that trash.” In a somewhat symbolic retaliation, the African culture seizes its revenge on the imposing imperialist culture. As the flames ravish the shed, Marlow watches as a man attempts to put out the fire “…[he] dipped about a quart of water and tore back again. I noticed there was a hole in the bottom of his pail.” This hopeless effort signifies the futile efforts to suppress the overbearing strength of the African culture. As Marlow ventures deeper down the river, the “pilgrims” aboard his boat undergo a battle with the African wilderness. In fear of attack by the natives, the Europeans begin to blindly fire shots into the darkness. “The pilgrims had opened with their Winchesters, and were simply squirting lead into the bush.” Once again, Marlow uses words like “squirt” to exemplify the uselessness of firing into the jungle. This depiction is yet another representation of the little effect European
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