The Effects Of Imperialism In Joseph Conrad's Heart Of Darkness

1384 Words6 Pages
Have you ever gone to another country, and witnessed that the native people are treated harshly and are controlled by a minority race? This is the concept of Heart of Darkness, written by Joseph Conrad. Heart of Darkness is a novella, that reflects Conrad’s experiences in the Belgian Congo. In the story, Marlow is on a boat in the Thames River in London, and is telling the story of his experience in the Congo. While there, Marlow hears about a legendary ivory collector known as Kurtz, who has gone mad with power and is controlling the natives. In “Heart of Darkness,” Conrad shows the definite racism against the natives that develops in the Belgian Congo through the harsh treatment of the natives, the word choice used, and the effects of Imperialism.…show more content…
Imperialism is defined as “the policy of extending the rule or authority of an empire or nation over foreign countries, or of acquiring and holding colonies and dependencies” (Imperialism). The worst of Imperialism, takes place in the Belgian Congo, in which the Europeans only cared about power, and did everything possible to maintain it. According to Charlie Wesley, “Belgian colonists in the Congo during the late 18th century enforced their reign through a variety of brutal means. Conscription, severe labor practices, torture, killing and burning villages by the Force Publique as well as employing Capitas were just some of the practices through which the imperial center tried to control the native people of the Congo” (Wesley). In addition, Benita Parry states “Conrad’s work is speaking against imperialism “in its intimations of what may yet come out of an “Africa” that lies beyond its own epistemologically constrained field of vision” (Wesley 23). Heart of Darkness contains so many examples of imperialism it is kind of hard to determine if it is all true of if some of it is exaggerations. Davis claims, “Heart of Darkness is clearly anti-imperialist in its attack on the idea of colonization, embodied in the Belgian’s ruthless quest for ivory in the Congo” (Davis 89). In Heart of Darkness, Marlow states “a slight clinking behind me made me turn my head. Six black men advanced in a file, toiling up…show more content…
According to Richard Ruppel, “Conrad never celebrated the British Empire and European imperialism in a straightforward way. All of his fiction criticizes—sometimes subtly, sometimes directly—the oppression of one people by another” (Ruppel). In Heart of Darkness, Conrad uses the words “black” and “white” as contrasts to support his claim of racism in the Belgian Congo. For example, the natives are always characterized as black “figures, creatures, shadows, etc.” In Heart of Darkness, Marlow states “the black bones reclined at full length with one shoulder against the tree, and slowly the eyelids rose and the sunken eyes looked up at me, enormous and vacant, a kind of blind, white flicker in the depths of the orbs, which died out slowly” (Conrad 17). This is a perfect example of Conrad using strict diction to define the racism against the natives in the Belgian Congo; take notice of how Marlow says black bones instead of saying a person. The natives are so dehumanized that the Europeans see them as insignificant creatures. According to Zeitler, In Heart of Darkness, “Marlow describes the conditions under which the native tribesman labor to build rail lines and roads necessary for the exporting of ivory and rubber as an ““Inferno” of disease and starvation, a place where the native people are considered criminals and enemies, and where forced conscripts are whipped

More about The Effects Of Imperialism In Joseph Conrad's Heart Of Darkness

Open Document