‘Heart of Darkness’ was written in 1899 by a Polish novelist Joseph Conrad, about the expedition up the Congo River in the Heart of Africa. This essay will mainly deal with the reference of the ‘darkness’ in the novel and it even deals with the theme which will further support the statement. The idea of ‘darkness’ in ‘Heart of Darkness’ represents evil or dark side of Humanity. It is also related to the idea of colonization, especially when it comes to the idea of mistreatments of people and misuse of natural resources.
New Criticism View of Imperialism in Heart of Darkness In Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, the imperialism of Africa is described. Conrad tells the story of the cruel treatment of the natives and of the imperialism of the Congo region through the perspective of the main character, Marlow. Throughout the novel, Marlow describes how the Europeans continuously bestow poor treatment to the native people by enslaving them in their own territory. Analyzing the story with the New Criticism lens, it is evident that Conrad incorporates numerous literary devices in Heart of Darkness, including similes, imagery, personification, and antitheses to describe and exemplify the main idea of cruel imperialism in Africa discussed throughout the novella.
As Marlow goes deeper into the heart of the continent, Conrad’s depiction of Africa is infused with a sense of fear loathing and abomination coupled with a sense that there is some dire evil at work; a malevolent force that carries out the acts of inhumanity. Illustrations of Joseph Conrad’s don’t only focus on Africa as a continent but also carries on the physical and mental characterization of the natives. The author describes Marlow’s first encounter with an African ceremony as, “a burst of yells, a whirl of black limbs, a mass of hands clapping, of feet stamping, of bodies swaying, of eyes rolling” (Joseph 57). Joseph Conrad goes portrays Marlow’s reaction to this somewhat bewildering frenzy of the natives “as sane men would be before an enthusiastic outbreak in a madhouse” (Joseph 58). Conrad’s description of these people shows them as deranged, frenzied, and intense feverish savages, not an image any modern day western writer would dare to warm up to.
Gyasi clearly depicts the ruthless nature that Ness’s owner has. By comparing him to the Devil, she expresses the evilness and corruption amongst all white slave owners. Although very few were kind, many of them whipped Africans and beat them, even to their death. The lives of Africans did not matter to a white man, and Gyasi clearly illustrates this through Esi and Ness. She shows how the slave trade turned human beings, the Africans, into the property of white male plantation
The meeting with Mr Wolfsheim shows the violence and corruption in this novel. Meyer wears cuff buttons made from human teeth, creating a fierce effect, showing that the man was unhuman. He is also mocked for appearance and his accent, particularly focusing on the words ’Oggsford’ and ‘gonnegtion’. These two words capture the deception (as Gatsby’s states to an Oxford education is taken apart in the novel) and euphemism (making the criminal underworld acceptable) needed to uphold the myth of America as the ‘land of dreams’. As well as this situation represents Gatsby’s criminality, Wolfsheim is an important part of Gatsby’s past, illustrating how extreme Gatsby’s poverty was when he returned from the war.
Through his story, Douglass proves that slavery has negative effects on slaveholders. He uses imagery, flashbacks, and characterization to persuade the reader of the true nature of slavery. His deep thoughts and insights of slavery and the unbalanced power between a slaveholder and his slave are unprompted for a social establishment. Douglass insists that slaveholding fills the soul with sadness and bitter anguish. In addressing effects of slavery on masters cause one man to rethink his moral character and better understand the laws of humanity.
In addition to this, he incorporates the simile “Where he is every moment subjected to the terrible liability of being of being seized upon by his fellow-men, as the hideous crocodile seizes upon his prey” to share how it felt being a slave and how it felt being attacked by his slave owners. Therefore, Douglass shared his life of a being slave who was controlled and had no freedom.
It was thought that negroes in the 20th century were lazy panhandlers. The bourgeoisie seeked to rid France of their current politicians because it was assumed that anyone with political power during the king’s reign seeked to overthrow the new government. The term “witch hunt” best describes these scenarios, and it is no coincidence that Arthur Miller writes about the inspiration for the term when he describes McCarthyism in The Crucible. It is through this use of hysteria that influential people gain more power.
Lead by Senator Joe McCarthy, this modern witch hunt for communism ruined lives and spread lies, with the initial victims being the disliked, the outsiders. One of the first of those blacklisted was Owen Lattimore. He was outspoken about his unpopular liberal views and so it was easy for McCarthy to shift blame and suspicion towards him (Victims of McCarthyism). McCarthy played off the existing fear of communism left behind by World War II to gain support for his lagging political career by fighting a problem that did not really exist. As in The Crucible, people easily accepted that Lattimore and others like him were to blame, in this case for being communist.
This becomes more notable as the story progresses especially when the monster states that his “heart was poisoned with remorse” (Shelley 186). In this vital statement said by the monster, his intense regret for his murders is clearly conveyed. He even goes to the extent to metaphorically hyperbolize his feelings of remorse by stating that they have “poisoned” his heart. He adds on by saying that his heart was “fashioned to be susceptible of love and sympathy” (Shelley 186), which even further supports the idea that the monster truly believes that he was originally intended to have the traits and mindset of a human. However, the rejection brought against him by society destroyed his human traits leading him to murdering people.
Marlow overhears a man saying that “anything—anything can be done in this country. That’s what I say; nobody here, you understand, here, can endanger your position.” (54), and this fact of Africa proves to be a temptation Kurtz cannot resist. Even Kurtz’s loyal disciple remarks that, “he could be very terrible” (104) and tells of how Kurtz threatened to kill him unless he gave up a small piece of ivory which he had been given as a present. The fact that Kurtz was willing to kill a man over a trivial sum of ivory, when he already had so much of it, demonstrates his immoral tyranny.
In other words, the dehumanization of people of color in order to “civilize” them was both widely accepted and scarcely challenged. As George Washington Williams made obvious in his “Open Letter to King Leopold…,” the people of the Congo were widely abused and none of the Belgian King’s claims of an ultimate “work of peace” were even scarcely true. When Williams visited the Congo for himself, he saw the atrocity which was under King Leopold’s watch. Although King Leopold claimed his men were not open to hurting the natives, it was very obvious that the men took advantage of their position and power, going so far as to “[bury] slaves alive in the grave of a dead chief [and cut] off the heads of captured warriors in native combats” (___). Clearly, the King’s men were going out of their way to let the natives know they did not identify as equal to them.