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The use of imperialism in the heart of darkness by joseph conrad

Being a student of history, and of European colonialism in particular, I have had the pleasure to hear of Heart of Darkness several times.

Imperialism in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness

Rapacity and ruthlessness dominated under the spurious cloak of philanthropic interest — just as Heart of Darkness so clearly shows. And what are the long-term consequences this view entails?

Since imperialism is first and foremost a phenomenon rooted in time, insights from the historical discipline might be helpful and, wherever appropriate, will be used too. When discussing the plot of Heart of Darkness, it is essential to keep in mind that the main part of the story, the journey up the Congo River as recalled by Charles Marlow, is placed within an over-arching narrative.

It is here, near London — the virtual centre of colonialism — that first allusions to imperial values are made.

Imperialism Within the Heart of Darkness

What greatness had not floated on the ebb of that river into the mystery of an unknown earth! What saves us is efficiency — the devotion to efficiency. But these chaps were not much account, really.

They were no colonists; their administration was merely a squeeze, and nothing more, I suspect. They were conquerors, and for that you want only brute force — nothing to boast ofwhen you have it, since your strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of others.

Imperialism In Heart Of Darkness

They grabbed what they could get for the sake of what was to be got. It was robbery with violence, aggravated murder on a great scale, and men going at it blind —a s is very proper for those who tackle a darkness. The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses that ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much.

What seems to be missing it is the idea only. An idea at the back of it; not a sentimental pretence but an idea; and an unselfish belief in the idea — something you can set up, and bow down before, and offer a sacrifice to…. In these very lines is embedded the core content of the whole story to come.

Suffice to say that both are belied by what Marlow is going to revive of his experiences. Take for instance the construction site he passes on arriving at the first station. Amongst the decaying residues of machinery and the den of detonations, he notices: The cliff was not in the way of anything; but this objectless blasting was all the work going on 154.

Being paid with pieces of brass wire, they are doomed to starve, for the currency is practically worthless as a commodity in exchange for food. They passed me within six inches, without a glance, with that complete, deathlike indifference of unhappy savages 154.

The criminality of inefficiency and pure selfishness when tackling the civilizing work in Africa is a justifiable idea. The subject is of our time distinctly. Both Hunt Hawkins and Jonah Raskin persuasively comment on this connection.

Hypocritical Imperialism in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness

Ideological Boundaries and Visionary Frontiers, London, 1983, p.