Joseph Conrad Imperialism

Powerful Essays
The Treatment of Natives and Europeans in Joseph Conrad's Heart Of Darkness In Joseph Conrad's novella, Heart Of Darkness (1899), the narrator, Marlow describes his experience of a trip to the Belgian Congo. The novella has often been the subject of study with regards to its attitude towards imperialism and colonialism. It enjoys an important position in the postcolonial era, with some critics heralding it as an anti-imperialist novella that challenged its contemporary period's attitude towards imperialism. Thus, it also becomes interesting to analyse the attitude towards the colonised subject. This paper attempts to analyse the author's treatment of the natives and Europeans in Heart of Darkness, and to determine whether the…show more content…
While one would do well to agree with Bruce Fleming when he says that Achebe's crticism is holding Conrad to 'timeless standards' or at least standards that are synonymous with the contemporary society, and thus incompatible, yet the complete sidestepping of the issue, that such a stance seemingly permits seems problematic at the very least. The understanding and the implications of the term 'racism' may not be the same between the two periods, still it cannot be treated as a 20th or mid 20th century concept altogether. A certain awareness of the subject can be discerned even in the preceding centuries whether in the late 16th C with Shakespeare's Othello, or the early 18th C with Jonathan Swift's Gullivers Travels, being a few examples. The danger with the anachronism defense can be observed in Bruce Fleming's statement that Conrad was not somehow peculiarly stupid for not having seen this in the previous century. It is not about standing out as peculiar. The danger lies in determining the validity/invalidity of a particular allegation on the basis of the number of people who partook in that particular activity. Just because Conrad has the safety of numbers, doesn't invalidate the charge against his treatment of the natives in the…show more content…
This geographical association is problematic as it presupposes a region to be 'dark', i.e. unexplored, unknown. The phrase 'the dark continent' was first used by Henry Morton Stanley in his book Through the Dark Continent. The idea of exploration is a Eurocentric one. The presence of the natives is duly ignored and the region is assumed to be previously unchartered territory. This could be scene in the first part of the novella, where Marlow talks about his fasination with maps and exploration. Africa is predominantly represented as a land of darkness within the text. Tawfik Yousef in his essay, Imagery in Conrad's Heart of Darkness, says, “Marlow's trip to the Central Station is a further step into darkness and his trip to the inner station is yet another. We are told that Marlow and his companions 'penetrated deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness'” Marlow says, “We were wanderers on a prehistoric earth, on a earth that wore the aspect of an unknown planet. We could have fancied ourselves the first of men taking possession of an accursed inheritance, to be subdued at the cost of profound anguish and of excessive
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