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
machinery “decaying” and the “objectless blasting” allow Conrad to give the reader and early indication that the progress, which is so highly regarded in Europe, is without benefit. Rather than advancing the area into a site of production, the modern machinery which represents progress is left to rust, and in a sense revert back to darkness. Marlow wanders unguided through the station witnessing what he calls “the grove of death,” which is the product of “The Work!”, as he puts it. The natives that Marlow sees in the grove had been “helpers” in the building of a railroad. The railroad representing imperial expansion of the period. The natives were forced to build this rail under such poor conditions they eventually became...