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Attitude Toward European Imperialism Essay

1797 words - 8 pages

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, “opens at sunset with Marlow in the company of four friends aboard the yawl Nellie at anchor in the Thames estuary waiting the turn of the tide” (Knowles and Moore 173). Marlow tells the story of his personal experience in the Congo. He, as a sailor of a steamboat, departed from Europe to Africa, where was “one of the dark places of the earth” (Conrad 3). His first assignment was to rescue Kurtz, who was a top agent working of the company in Africa and had fallen ill. Marlow voyaged along the Congo River. On the way up to the Congo, he “passed through several abandoned villages” (Conrad 17). He felt “the silent wilderness surrounding this cleared speck on the earth struck him as something great and invincible” (Conrad 20). He went through three stations of his company: Outer Station, Central Station, and Inner Station. He saw the despicable behavior of the European traders had done to the Africa natives, only for ivory. Marlow presented with this unseen violence in the cruel suffering of the indigenous Congolese. He saw the corruption of imperialists through his journey. He witnessed scenes of the “horrors” in the Congo. He was shocked by the “horrors.” He described his pilgrimage like nightmares. Conrad uses a frame narrative (Chantler 11) to show his attitude towards imperialism in the depiction of the different stations along Marlow's journey and the people that Marlow encounters.
When Marlow came to the first Station, Outer Station, he first witnessed the treatment of the natives. He recounted, “There were strong, lusty, red-eyed devils, that swayed and drove” (Conrad 13) the natives. Marlow saw a pile of decaying machinery on the ground and a group of black people arduously walking along in chains. The black people were building a railway on a steep path. Their necks wore the iron collars. Their limbs knotted with a rope. A white man stared at them with his weapon at a distance. His face showed a sense of alacrity. Marlow first witnessed the immoral behavior of the imperialists at the Outer Station. “Marlow sees and understands them very little, and that little gives him an uncomfortable notion – this suspicion of their not being inhuman” (Watt 87). Marlow foresaw that he had already come to the place of darkness.
Marlow experienced the disgust and horror at the Outer Station. When he came to “grove of death,” he saw “the black men were dying slowly” (Conrad 14) due to disease and starvation. They were not able to work but were allowed to wander off and die. Marlow offered a biscuit to a black boy with white thread around his black neck. These slaves stared at nothing (Conrad 14) and waited for death in misery and loneliness. Then, Marlow met the company’s chief accountant, a white man with “white cuffs, snowy trousers, light jacket, and clear necktie” (Conrad 15). He was making entries. Next to the chief accountant, a dying native, who had been put on a bed and he kept making noises. The chief...

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