In Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad suggest that true human existence cannot prevail productively without the dynamics of society. Throughout numerous scenes in the novel, Conrad stresses the necessity of societal restraints through Kurtz’s inability to prosper as a human being when he is removed from the expectations of civilization. In the scene above, Marlow’s myopic observations of Kurtz reveals Conrad’s theme by illustrating the annihilation of Kurtz’s essential human characteristics as he descends into a barbaric lifestyle absent of the norms of society. Not only does the above scene support Conrad’s main theme, but it portrays his writing style, characterization of Marlow, and symbolism as used throughout the novel.
In Heart Of Darkness, Conrad introduces the following characters, the manager, the brickman, and the foreman, with various distinctive characteristics. Additionally, Conrad applies each man to contribute towards accumulating information about Mr. Kurtz to Marlow. Correspondingly, while Marlow was accumulating information regarding Mr. Kurtz, Marlow encounters a painting created by Mr. Kurtz, which possesses a symbolic connotation to it. Furthermore, as a consequence of Marlow interest in Kurtz, it exceedingly represents Marlow’s characteristic.
Leopold never actually stepped foot in Congo, he had used explorers such as Stanley Mortan and other white men to establish the colony for him. To sneakily undergo his objectives without other countries noticing, he created organizations in which he could operate under. For instance, the International African Association to stop the outspread of slavery. Leopold additionally hosted conference meetings to speak on human rights. “If he was to seize anything in Africa, he could do so only if he convinced everyone that his interest was purely altruistic”. (46) King Leopold succeeded at convincing every one of his goodwill, that he was supported financially from the Belgian government in introducing free trade and religion in the Congo.
The desperation for the Congo territory catalyzed Leopold’s developing thoughts into deceitful promises. At first when Leopold read about Henry Morton Stanley’s adventurous trips, he knew that these were the lands he wanted. His excitement quickly turned into greed and he made every effort possible to get what he desired. He became the chairman of the International African Association which set up a smokescreen for his endeavors into the Congo. In the meantime, Stanley was in Africa crossing the lands, killing villages, and fighting off diseases, making a name for himself back home. King Leopold praised this man and wanted him to join his side. He came up with secret plans to have Stanley set up bases in the Congo so he could begin quietly claiming the territory and making it his. He sent Stanley on exploration missions so his intentions would be hidden. Leopold 's lies grew and grew as did his greed. After being told he could make treaties with the natives, he sent his army to go up and down the river, signing treaties, permitting him everything he wanted. He get recognition of his territory and making it legitimate, Leopold used the connections he had to manipulate others in power that he had good intentions and ideas. Henry Shelton Sanford convinced the White house of
Zeitler, Michael. “Isolation in Heart of Darkness.” Encyclopedia of Themes in Literature, 3-Volume Set, Facts on File, 2010. Bloom's Literature, online.infobase.com/HRC/Search/Details/38721?q=heart of darkness. Accessed 30 Nov. 2017.
However, to claim the Congo under his personal control, Leopold needed the formal recognition in the international system. In 1883, Leopold enlisted former US ambassador to Belgium Henry Shelton Sanford to help himself obtain the recognition from America. Sanford reported to the US government that the US will receive benefits from the free trade with the Congo. He further indicated free slaves in America could also be sent to the Congo. With the prospects for America’s own interests, eventually the resolution on the recognition of Leopold’s claim to the Congo passed in America. In 1884, the Congo question was discussed during the Berlin Conference, where Leopold reinforced his philanthropic claim to major countries of Europe. Leopold portrayed the colonialism in the Congo was a humanitarian work that would enlighten the ethnical groups and the society in the Congo. Since the idea of paternalism, in which Aricans were considered children or savages and had no capacity to make decisions, was common in Europe in the 1880s, Leopold’s imperialist stratedy was not only widely accepted but also morally justified at the conference (Paris, 2002; Hochschild, 1998). Leopold also maintained to build economic infrastructure such as railways and telecommunications system and open a free trade zone in the Congo. To expand
While Leopold II, the King of Belgium, desperately wanted an overseas colony, the Belgian people did not share his enthusiasm, which created the feelings of neglect and apathy Belgium had towards Congo. The Congo Free State, established “In the margins of the Berlin Conference” in 1885, allowed Leopold to “gain international recognition of his possession” which he had begun to take control of since the 1870s. However, while Leopold was securing control of the Congo, the Belgian people were not interested in controlling colonies, as they believed that colonies “Would merely soak up resources that would be better used for social purposes at home.” Thus, while the Belgian king administered Congo as a colony, the Belgian people and government did not control Congo. In effect, “Leopold would act in two entirely separate capacities: In Belgium, he would rule as a Constitutional Monarch, while in the Congo, he would rule as an autocrat.” Since Belgium was not in direct control of the Congo colony, Leopold could and did act as he pleased in the region.
In the late 1800s, a Belgian king wanted to dabble in Imperialism and he choose the Congo, which sadly meant that all its resources were going to be sucked dry. The government in the Congo made no honest and practical effort to increase the knowledge of the Congolese people nor did they secure their welfare, which is what they promised (Williams). This is around the time the main character in the book Heart of Darkness, Marlow, went to Congo because of his obsession with Africa. As Marlow was going up Congo River and journeying to his final destination, he was disappointed with how things were operating due to the company’s inefficiency and brutality towards the slaves. As the story goes on you will notice the hardship that the natives of the
The land Leopold had “was as large as the entire United States east of the Mississippi.” (Hochschild 72). At his point Leopold needed someone to recognize his claim on the Congo as legitimate. In 1883, ex American minister to Belgium and now Belgian kings advocate, Henry Shelton Stanford went to Washington DC to meet with President Chester A. Arthur (Hochschild 76). During this visit Stanford explained “Leopold’s great work of civilization… was much like the generous work the United States itself had done in Liberia.” (Hochschild 77). Stanford alluded that Americans would be able to purchase land and trade with the Congo. In 1884 the Senate recognized Leopold’s claim on the Congo (Hochschild 80). Soon afterwards came the Berlin Conference, which was a way to resolve conflicting claims, yet “not a single African was at the table in Berlin.” (Hochschild 84). The self-proclaimed “Emperor of the Congo” benefited greatly from this Conference, and was seen as a hero (Hochschild 87). Both Stanley and Stanford were in attendance and looked for ways to give their friend an advantage, finally Leopold had the colony he dreamed of (Hochschild 87). Leopold eventually decided he needed to add steamboats and railways to his colony. But he was running out of money to do this, eventually selling bonds and private investors due to no one wanting to lend him money (Hochschild 92). Yet still Leopold wanted more
Furthermore, the Heart of Darkness was written in 1902 during the Belgian Congo. The Belgian Congo was experiencing a genocide; half of central Africa's population was killed in the process of extracting rubber and ivory for the Belgians. As countries like Germany, France, and Belgium begin to expand, British culture tried to establish that their version of imperialism was aiming to civilize not to traumatize the colonies they were moving into. This culture was relayed into Conrad's novel directly. Heart of Darkness was the first real narrative of what was taking place in the Belgian Congo. Marlow illustrates and narrates the horror of a society without a balance of power. Conrad was directly affected by British culture because as a young man
The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad is a story that takes place in the early 1890s and presents us with an odyssey of a traveler known as Marlow who confronts the dangers of the Congo jungle while also witnessing the wicked, inhumane treatment of the African natives. In the story, Marlow represents Joseph Conrad who had actually traveled up the Congo in 1890 and witnessed the European exploitation of the African natives firsthand. In the Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad exposes the inhumanity of European exploitation of Africa and its people while also allowing us to understand how complex and immoral humans can be when pursuing greed and power. The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad gives us a good understanding of the real life issues that affected the Congo Independent State in the 1890s which included European imperialism, free market ivory trade, and many European atrocities against the African natives.
The heart of darkness can be read as a political critique of western imperialism as exercised by the Belgians, who more or less raped the Congo of its resources while brutalizing the country's people and making them slaves of unbridled political avarice.
When reading Joseph Conrad’s stunning work of literary fiction, Heart of Darkness, one is transported to the Congo’s jungles itself and has to ferociously fight until the end. The novel is readable to those determined to reach the end; the words are arranged almost in a way that makes the reader feel the struggle of the Congo. Reading the novel is indeed a journey itself, making the end worth the struggle.
Between the years of 1884 and 1885, King Leopold II of Belgium acquired an area of land 78 times larger than Belgium itself, he named it the Congo “Free” State. Leopold promised that he would improve the lives of the native Africans within this territory by ending the slave trade, converting them to Christians and introducing European health and education systems. Long story short, Leopold did none of those things for the native Africans; rather, he ended up enslaving, mutilating and killing them, all in a bid to take advantage of the Congo’s valuable natural resources. Many people were blind to what was actually happening in the Congo “Free” State; that’s where Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness comes in. Heart of Darkness is a novella which reveals the savage nature of events that took place in the Congo during King Leopold’s reign. Throughout Heart of Darkness, the Europeans in the Congo accuse the Africans of being savages based on their race and the environment they live in. However, according to Marlow it is the Europeans who are the true savages which is displayed through their atrocious acts of crime committed against the Congolese.