Light and Dark of Colonialism and Imperialism in Heart of Darkness

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The Light and Dark of Colonialism Exposed in Heart of Darkness

In Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad, challenges a dominant view by exposing the evil nature and the darkness associated with the colonialist ventures. It is expressed by Marlow as "robbery with violence, aggravated murder on a great scale, and men going at it blind - as it is very proper for those who tackle a darkness." The European colonialists are portrayed as blind lightbearers, people having a façade of progress and culture, yet are blind of their actions. They think they are brining a light to a darkness, yet they are the real darkness or evil. Conrad's critique of European colonialism is most apparent through the oppositions of light and darkness, with the
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The manager personifies the darkness with his unbalanced priorities of obtaining of ivory and the deficiency of importance given to human lives, thus displaying an intense darkness behind the façade of light. In the beginning of the book, Marlow comes upon a "grove of death" in the jungle where black workers who are no longer able to function satisfactorily in the eyes of the company are left to die. Marlow also witnesses black workers in chain-gangs throughout his journey up the river, along with a black man shot. These atrocities against the natives are as a result of the white colonization and the activities of the manager, a character which represents the darkness within the supposed light that is brought to the natives. The manager is solely concerned with the safe confiscation of the ivory and not at all with Kurtz' life, lives are seen as merely objects in the way of the ultimate goal of ivory. Therefore the manager, with the "lightness" - a façade of bringing culture and improvements to the natives, is in fact the real darkness, demonstrating the evil associated with the European colonialism of Africa.

Conrad also uses minor characters to enhance the distinction between dark and light, with character construction of good and evil along similar lines. In the beginning of the novella, the members of the Nellie represent the contrast of the materialistic and the spiritual. The
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