Darkness And Imperialism Essay

1380 words - 6 pages

In the present era of decolonization, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness presents one of fictions strongest accounts of British imperialism. Conrad’s attitude towards imperialism and race has been the subject of much literary and historical debate. Many literary critics view Conrad as accepting blindly the arrogant attitude of the white male European and condemn Conrad to be a racist and imperialists. The other side vehemently defends Conrad, perceiving the novel to be an attack on imperialism and the colonial experience. Understanding the two viewpoints side by side provides a unique understanding that leads to a commonality that both share; the novel simply presents a criticism of colonialists in Africa. The novel merely portrays a fictional account of British imperialism in the African jungle, where fiction offers maximum entertainment it lacks in focus. The novel is not a critique of European colonialism and imperialism, but rather a presentation of colonialism and the theme of darkness throughout the novel sheds a negative light on the selfishness of humanity and the system that was taking advantage of the native peoples. In Joseph Conrad’s novel, Heart of Darkness, Conrad presents a criticism of British imperial colonization not for the purpose of taking sides, but with aims of bettering the system that was in place during Conrad’s experience in the African Congo. Conrad uses the character of Marlow and his original justification of imperialism so long as it was efficient and unselfish that was later transformed when the reality of colonialism displayed the selfishness of man, to show that colonialism throughout history displaces the needs of the mother country over the colonized peoples and is thus always selfish.
Understanding the ideology, practices, and repercussions of imperialism is paramount to interpreting Conrad’s’ viewpoint of imperialism and the colonial experience. The British Empire transformed the world into an extension of its Empire economically, culturally, and politically through imperial colonization. The ideology of imperialism developed to justify the British colonization of these civilizations, so that they were not only economically benefiting from their rule, but also progressing the civilization under rule. The stadial theory helped to differentiate the British with the less ‘civilized’ nations, where the British stood as the highest form of civilization and thus assumed the moral responsibility to bring their enlightened ways to the ‘uncivilized’ peoples of the world. The British began to see that the ‘others’ had agency and thus the ability to develop into a society similar to theirs in due time.
Imperialism was unnecessary, so long as the British Empire maintained control of the world market. Once Germany, Belgium, and The United States were able to compete with the monopoly the British Empire had created, this forced the British Empire to explore new markets. It was the sudden demand for new foreign markets to...

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