Belgian Imperialism In Joseph Conrad's Heart Of Darkness

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“‘Exterminate all the brutes!’” (Conrad, 25), Kurtz writes on his report. What is the sentence trying to tell? This single sentence from Heart of Darkness indicates that there are a number of themes in the story. It describes how a European of the 1890s views himself as a superior being above Africans, and how a man has become a cruel monster when separated from a civilized world. Then, what themes does the whole book talk about? Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness considers both the themes of the social injustice produced by imperialism and effects of living conditions on a man in a religious way, in which James 1:13-15 in the Bible supports. In the 1890s, Belgian imperialism has caused a serious social injustice problem in the Congo Free State. During the time period, the Congo has been merely a private possession of King Leopold II of Belgium. There has been an extreme contrast between the state of Congo natives and that of European colonists; colonizers have enjoyed wealth from the labor of natives, whom they have forced to work for the sovereign Leopold and left when suffering from malnutrition and health problems.…show more content…
One, with his chin propped on his knees, stared at nothing, in an intolerable and appalling manner: his brother phantom rested its forehead, as if overcome with a great weariness; and all about others were scattered in every pose of contorted collapse, as in some picture of a massacre or a pestilence (Conrad, 26). The European exploration into “unexplored” Congo has not only destroyed natives’ lives but also the voyagers’ in spiritual ways. In Heart of Darkness, Conrad reflects his pessimistic views of human nature through the negative changes characters go through as their conditions change. In other words, he emphasizes how every man becomes overwhelmed by his inborn evil spirit that comes out as he gets closer to “the darkness”, separated from a civilized
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