Colonialism in Heart of Darkness

Length: 10 Pages 2519 Words

Descent into Darkness: The Fallacies of Colonialism Present in Heart of Darkness The European colonization of Africa was intended to bring the light of civilization and European society to the darkness of an unknown and poorly understood continent. Armed with technology and ignorance to the darkness that lies in the hearts of mankind, the colonists attempted to enact their noble plan. In Heart of Darkness Conrad shows, through fiction, that the lack of moral and judicial restraints in Africa allowed for the release of the darkness from the hearts of the colonists. The whole pretence behind the European colonists operations in Africa is to “bring the light of civilization.” Marlow compares the Roman and British empires in his description of the Thames river. Britain itself has “been one of the dark places of the world,” but since the “Romans first came here… light came out of the river since….” Herein Conrad provides an allusion to the Roman occupation of Britain, and a historical indication of Britain’s intentions and actions in Africa (Al-Dabbagh). When Marlow first arrives in the colonial zone, he notices the desolation of the Station. His observations of the 2 machinery “decaying” and the “o Continue...

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The young native women who Kurtz has a relationship with indicate Kurtz removal from the morals of European society. In essence Kurtz comes to represent the ivory which he so longs for. Early in Marlow's adventure in Africa we are introduced to the Company's chief accountant. Kurtz, in the end, comes to represent a contradictory possibility for his alter-ego Marlow; who nearly loses himself to Kurtz mindset, but pulls away from the edge. The ivory that eventually is his greatest failure. This allusion is shattered at the end of his report by the scribbled phrase "Exterminate all the brutes (Al-Dabbagh)! Kurtz himself comes to exemplify the evils committed by the colonial forces on the Congo. His megalomania is expressed in his repetitious claim on everything around him: "my river, my ivory, my station... (Al-Dabbagh). Marlow comes to the dark continent in order to fulfill a childhood dream. 7 Annotated Bibliography Al-Dabbagh, Abdulla. The villages along the way lay empty and barren. In keeping with the customs and appearances of his culture, the accountant had lost his humanity, and thus he has given himself to the darkness within his heart (Wilcox 216-217). Kurtz was able to make such accomplishments by subduing a tribe of natives, and then using them to attack and oppress other nearby tribes into giving him ivory. Kurtz, and to some degree Marlow, is the driving force in 9 Conrad's Heart of Darkness.


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