Post-colonial studies have often created this myth about the European intent for Africa, a tale that has led many westerners to believe in the noble role of European policy of civilizing Africa. However, literal materials have said little about the evils that surrounded the well sometimes ill-disguised motives of explorers, colonial administrators and their adventures. This essay provides an in depth review of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, a classical novella that illustrates without bias the motives behind human intentions and the extremes individuals can go to achieve wealth and profits at the expense of others with the aim of shedding insight into the rise of European imperialism, the imperial history, its politics and evil activities in the colonized African tribes along the river Congo during the eighteenth and nineteenth century.
The Heart of Darkness is an exceptionally figurative classic novella established on Conrad’s own astounding experiences in central Africa during the colonial administration under King Leopold. The book narrates of the seaman Marlow’s literal journey in the jungle of the Congo River in his quest for the puzzling Mr. Kurtz, a Belgian ivory merchant whose barbaric control and influence over the indigenous people had changed him into a corrupt and revolting despot.
Conrad’s book is quite unconventional. The book is on the surface a dreamy narrative of adventures into the jungle in central Africa. However, depending on the context, the book is also a symbolic quest into man’s inner murky being. Marlow goes to Africa with the prejudiced racist ideas about the locals and an immense sense of superiority from Kurtz’s noble narratives on civilizing Africans. He is excited to meet the famous Kurtz. However, his experiences provoke abhorrence at the degrading impact of colonialism after he unveils Kurtz who had deteriorated from a civilizer to an evil, and power insatiable oppressor of the indigenous Africans. Marlow not only encounters Kurtz’s corruption but also braves the forces inside him that make him susceptible to Kurtz’s tendencies. In this book Marlow says "I've had to strike and to fend off. I've had to resist and to attack sometimes--that's only one way of resisting--without counting the exact cost, according to the demands of such sort of life as I had blundered into" (Conrad 10).
Actually, he finds out that Africa is not as uncivilized as he was made to believe. The incident on the river and the dignified woman believed to be Kurtz’s mistress makes Marlow rethink how civilized Africans are as he sees them as people who have some inner wisdom that is incomprehensible to the white man (Conrad 23). He also discovers the ravage done on the continent. Marlow goes back to Belgium after Kurtz’s demise where he faces Kurtz’s fiancée and is forced to lie about Kurtz’s undertakings and his last words.
The close of the nineteenth century came with one of the most conspicuous forms of imperialism ever experienced...