The Darkness of Imperialism in In Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad

Decent Essays

In Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad, the interpretation of pre-colonial times is interesting in a way that supersedes other books I’ve read because it’s very honest with how the world worked it that era. The central aim which the shipmates in Heart of Darkness are pursuing is the expansion of their home countries’ empires. Yet many people are hurt in this enterprise, and it’s not only the colonized territories that are impacted negatively by imperialist Europe. Europe’s explorers that go to the Congo are constantly dying of sickness. Compare the ways in which the consequences of imperialism affect the different groups of people in the book, the more one can understand about characters’ actions. Heart of Darkness is a …show more content…

In his journey to the inner station, Marlow captains a ship that is crewed by cannibals and carries Pilgrims. Conrad sets up a contrast as Marlow observes with puzzlement that the cannibals act restrained, even though the Pilgrims throw out their food. The colonial people, who in the eyes of most history books would have been portrayed as civilized, along with the cannibals who showed restraint and respected others, it creates a strange feeling of a new perspective on history that was originally thought solid. Marlow says that, "They were conquerors, and for that you want only brute force-- nothing to boast of."(p.58 Heart of Darkness) . Marlow compares his subsequent tale of colonialism with that of the Roman colonization of Northern Europe and the fascination associated with such a voyage. However, Marlow challenges this viewpoint by illustrating a picture of the horrors of colonialist ventures as we delve deeper into the novel. White Europeans are used as symbols of self-deception, and we find that Marlow sees colonization 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 darkness."(p.58 Heart of Darkness) This shows how Conrad feels about colonialism through Marlow, because Marlow feels strongly adverse to the actions of the whites in the Congo. So finally, Marlow’s, and therefore Conrad’s feelings on imperialism are backwards in the sense that the

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