Colonialism In Heart Of Darkness Essay

1418 words - 6 pages

For all of Conrad's good intentions in writing Heart of Darkness, he was limited in what he could say and represent by his society and social understandings. He wrote from within the discourse of race and colonialism that was predominant at the time, and encountered difficulties when using language to attempt to represent those things outside his cultural arena. In writing the novel, Conrad could not escape the influence of his culture's attitudes towards colonialism and those, less civilized, races. "In Heart of Darkness "¦ the natives portrayed are not reduced by Kurtz or other whites any less than they are reduced by the author to a state we vulgarly call aboriginal" (Murfin 128). Despite the difficulties of representation, Heart of Darkness can be read as a critique of colonialism, a comment on the "vilest scramble for loot that ever disfigured the history of human conscience and geographical exploration" (Cox 49).Our understanding of the world we exist in relies upon the cultural discourses that we use to represent the world in terms that we can comprehend. This not only refers to the concepts we have, ranging from concrete to abstract, but to the language with which we speak to each other intelligently about those concepts. In writing, we cannot avoid the use of a language imbued with naturalized cultural concepts and often find, as Marlow did, that words are "unable to cut through to the truthful heart of things" (Billy 102-103). A number of times Marlow refers to this indirectly by describing the difficulty with which he captures the story he is trying to tell.It seems to me I am trying to tell you a dream "“ making a vain attempt, because no relation of a dream can convey the dream-sensation, that commingling of absurdity, surprise, and bewilderment in a tremor of struggling revolt, that notion of being captured by the incredible which is of the very essence of dreams. (50) Conrad deals with this problem by having a narrator, Marlow, tell the story within the narrative of the text. This narrative within narrative technique works to set Marlow up as, "not just as character and narrator, but as the visual focus of the novel" (Billy 103). Jerry Wasserman argues that: Marlow himself embodies his experience "¦ he is literally and objectively the meaning of his own narrative. Only by seeing Marlow can his auditors ever hope to understand what he has been trying to tell them, and their ultimate failure is another triumph of the darkness. But the characters' failures are Conrad's successes "¦ The form of Marlow's tale embodies not only his own experiences but Kurtz's as well, and in a sense the potential experiences of his audience, whose reactions confirm his meaning. Thus the style is the theme, in coherent and concrete form. (Billy 103) To extent, this argument explains why Marlow as a narrator manages to work around the difficulty of language. However, it also works because we accept Marlow...

Find Another Essay On Colonialism In Heart Of Darkness

Colonialism and Imperialism Exposed in Shooting an Elephant and Heart of Darkness

1371 words - 5 pages short story Shooting an Elephant by George Orwell and the novel Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad revolve around the time when colonialism had a foothold in many parts of the world. This setting is one of conflict with the native peoples in these countries who are fighting and rebelling against the colonizers. Building upon this, both authors instill in the protagonists a sense of the wrongs they, as an extension of colonialism, are doing. In

Colonialism and Beyond Things Fall Apart and Heart of Darkness

3429 words - 14 pages Colonialism and Beyond Things Fall Apart and Heart of Darkness   My entire education has taken place in the United States of America. It has consisted of public school, college, and graduate school. I only had one teacher during my public school career who wasn't white. I had a female African-American English teacher when I was in Junior High School. The student body of my junior high school was over ninety-percent black, yet

The Darkness of Colonialism

774 words - 4 pages Heart of Darkness, a novella written by Joseph Conrad, explores the growth of colonialism in Africa, narrated by a man, named Marlow, telling his life experiences to his crewmates. Over the course of Heart of Darkness, certain aspects of colonialism and those involved are revealed in a darker form than usual. Conrad provides an anti-colonialism novel rich with hidden explanations as to why. Heart of Darkness is an anti-colonialism novel, because

Elements of Darkness in Apocalypse Now and Heart of Darkness

1284 words - 5 pages Elements of Darkness in Apocalypse Now and Heart of Darkness       In both Apocalypse Now and Heart of Darkness certain elements of darkness attempt to show how deep one must look inside themselves to discover the truth. Conrad portrays the idea of the darkness of the human heart through things such as the interior of the jungle and it's immensity, the Inner Station, and Kurtz's own twisted deeds. Coppola's heart of darkness is represented

Light and Dark in Heart of Darkness

1294 words - 5 pages Light and Dark in Heart of Darkness     The brightest of lights can obscure vision while darkness can contain truths: one must not be distracted by the sheen of light, which conceals the deeper reality present in darkness. Joseph Conrad's novel Heart of Darkness illustrates this idea with the use of several symbols. White Europeans are used as symbols of self-deception, and objects with an alabaster quality are symbols of barriers to

Restraint in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness

4025 words - 16 pages of is Britannia, in a greater sense the very concept of civilization as a whole. The evil present in the savages in the heart of darkness of the African continent is no different. It is the combination of the two that destroys a man so great as Kurtz, and can destroy mankind entire. Before he begins the tale, Marlow comments upon Roman imperialism giving birth to English society, and likens it to contemporary English colonialism. The important

Character Growth in Conrad's Heart of Darkness

3006 words - 12 pages façade of bringing culture and progress to a world devoid of these elements, yet are merely "hollow men". They are merely acting as products for the indefinable aims of colonialism and in turn, move the readership to reject their ideals, emphasize the "enlightened" (those who grow) and encourage a similar psychological journey of the readership.       Bibliography   Conrad, J. (1995). Heart of Darkness. London: Penguin

The Other in The Heart of Darkness

2506 words - 10 pages sympathetic towards the Africans, when reading Heart of Darkness through a post colonial lens, and examining the representations of racial minorities Conrad can be viewed as a racist through his negative representations of the blacks. A post-colonial reading practice is grounded in colonial experiences outside of Europe and the consequences and impact of colonialism, revolving around the idea of "the other", with a focus on racial representations

Irony in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness

1044 words - 4 pages Irony in Heart of Darkness      The use of irony within the ‘The Heart of Darkness’ by Conrad is an important notion.  Irony in this novella helps to bring about encapsulating self-discovery and enlightenment of the self.  Furthermore the use of characters and what they represent also brings about communicating what it means to be civilised.  Thus these two facets shall be the focus within my essay. Firstly each of the main characters

Moral Ambiguity in Heart of Darkness

1058 words - 4 pages Addie ZebrowskiMoral Ambiguity in Heart of DarknessIn Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad, the character Marlow, through his actions and experiences, shows himself to be morally ambiguous in that he goes on the European's malevolent expedition to Africa yet he seems to despise the events he sees there and in that he performs both noble and ignoble deeds. These experiences and actions drive Conrad's theme of European influence and colonialism

Prejudice and Racism in Heart of Darkness?

890 words - 4 pages Heart of Darkness: Racist or not?   Many critics, including Chinua Achebe in his essay "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness", have made the claim that Joseph Conrad's novel Heart of Darkness, despite the insights which it offers into the human condition, ought to be removed from the canon of Western literature. This claim is based on the supposition that the novel is racist, more so than other novels of its time

Similar Essays

Theme Of Colonialism And Imperialism In Conrad's Heart Of Darkness

1047 words - 4 pages The Theme of Imperialism in Heart of Darkness     Of the themes in Conrad's Heart of Darkness, imperialism and colonialism are probably the most important. While Heart of Darkness is actually set on the Thames River, the events Marlow describes are set on the Congo River. "The Congo is the river that brought about the partition of Africa that occurred from 1880 to 1890" (McLynn 13). This event marked the beginning of the colonization of

Colonialism And Imperialism In Joseph Conrad's Heart Of Darkness

2046 words - 8 pages   Joseph Conrad's novella, Heart of Darkness, describes a life-altering journey that the protagonist, Marlow, experiences in the African Congo.  The story explores the historical period of colonialism in Africa to exemplify Marlow's struggles.  Marlow, like other Europeans of his time, is brought up to believe certain things about colonialism, but his views change as he experiences colonialism first hand. This essay will explore Marlow's view

Exposing Colonialism And Imperialism In Joseph Conrad’s Heart Of Darkness

2099 words - 8 pages The Evil of Colonialism Exposed in Heart of Darkness     Marlow was an average European man with average European beliefs. Like most Europeans of his time, Marlow believed in colonialism; that is, until he met Kurtz. Kurtz forces Marlow to rethink his current beliefs after Marlow learns the effects of colonialism deep in the African Congo. In Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Marlow learns that he has lived his entire life believing in a

Colonialism And Imperialism The White Male And The Other In Heart Of Darkness

1073 words - 4 pages male.     In Heart of Darkness, cultural identity and the dominance of the European, white male is constructed and asserted through the constructions of the "other", that is the African natives and females, largely through language and setting. Thus, while claims of Conrad's forwardness in producing a text that critiques colonialism may be valid, Heart of Darkness is ultimately a product of it's time and therefore confirms the