Joseph Conrad's Criticism Of Imperialism

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Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness, which describes the colonization of Africa and its ramifications, was published in 1899 when colonialism and imperialism were still at their full strength. Many have praised the story as an excellent example of anti-imperialism, but there are some critics who think quite opposite, insisting that it is racist. In my opinion, Heart of Darkness does provide subtle criticism of imperialism, but dehumanizing descriptions of Africa and its natives are much more prominent and therefore leave stronger impression on the readers. In the 19th and 20th century it was a universal truth that black people are inferior and uncivilized beasts and that it is white people’s duty to bring them on the right track – to…show more content…
They are not given a chance to express and retell their experiences and struggles. Instead, we are told about white men and how imperialism influences them. As Rino Zhuwarara puts it: What seems to have interested and fascinated Conrad, however, is not so much the fate of the non-white as a victim of imperialism but rather, what became of the character and fate of the so-called superior race the moment it left the shores of a supposed “civilized” Western world and came face to face with the dark people of an alien culture and environment. (Zhuwarara 225) Only on two occasions black people speak, but neither proves that they are humans and undeserving of the horrors they were put through by the whites. First one is by one of the “cannibals”: “Give 'im to us. ' 'To you, eh? ' I asked; 'what would you do with them? ' 'Eat 'im! ' he said curtly” (Conrad 56). This of course just reinforces the idea that black people are bloodthirsty and man-eating savages. The second one is “ 'Mistah Kurtz- he dead. '” said by “the manager’s boy” (Conrad 87). Güven claims that “their silence can be interpreted as silent defiance against the European colonialism” (86), but he ignores the fact that Conrad – a European, a white man – made them silent. Silence could mean defiance only if the decision was made by the African people
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