Theme Of Imperialism In Heart Of Darkness

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The first chapter of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness depicts the journey that Charles Marlow, the protagonist of the story, makes into the heart of Africa in order to become a captain of a steamboat. The novel begins with an introduction of various characters, including Marlow by an unnamed narrator. Marlow and the unnamed narrator are aboard the Nellie and the boat has been temporarily docked in order to wait for a change in tide. During that short break Marlow begins to talk about one of his previous journeys. Marlow, who describes himself as someone who has wanted to travel around the world even as a child, sees a map of Africa and the Congo River and remembers about a trading company operating there. Marlow becomes determined to go…show more content…
The ideology of imperialism revolves around the need for economic gain through any means necessary. However, Conrad tries to show that the very ideology itself is detrimental to a person’s mental health throughout the first chapter of Heart of Darkness. A key example of this is the scene with the doctor at the beginning of the chapter, the doctor who is examining Marlow states that “changes take place inside” people that go to places like Africa. The doctor could be implying that individual change when they go places like Africa because of the influence of imperialism. In places like Africa an individual must adapt to the imperialistic ideology, which revolves primarily around the gain of profit. Another example that Conrad uses to show how imperialistic ideology might have an effect on an individual mental health is the story about of the man that killed himself. Marlow, after boarding a French steamboat that would take him the rest of the way to his posting, learns about the man that hung himself from the captain of the steamboat. The captain tells Marlow that it could simply be that “the sun too much for him, or the country perhaps”. However, Conrad is trying to show that imperialism and its ideologies are destructive forces to an individual’s mental
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