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The Monster Of Imperialism Essay

954 words - 4 pages

Like a trite high school scandal involving backstabbing friends and scheming girls, imperialism during the 19th century turned previously upright Europeans into treasure-seeking ogres willing to renege on their promises. As a British merchant marine who travelled to the Congo, Joseph Conrad witnessed his fellow imperialistic sailors partake in horrid acts, and his experiences induced him to write his chilling book Heart of Darkness. In this book, published in 1899, Marlow meets both a sycophantic manager seeking to advance up the corporate ladder and a vicious Kurtz willing to murder indiscriminately. Yet despite Kurtz’s paramount evilness, Marlow gives his loyalties to Kurtz instead of to ...view middle of the document...

Clearly, the manager’s emptiness and superficiality severely disillusion Marlow and plays a large role in Marlow’s decision to side with Kurtz.
Kurtz, on the other hand, actively acquires power by committing innumerable acts of evil. His honesty to himself, however, endures him to Marlow. When Marlow first comes across “the rebellious heads [which] looked very subdued to me on their sticks,” a sense of shock permeates his body as he realizes Kurtz’s brutality (Conrad 85). While this brutality does disturb Marlow somewhat at first, Marlow quickly overcomes his surprise at Kurtz’s evilness and laughs at the ridiculous sight. This blunt, honest display of human heads provides a refreshing sense of reality for a Marlow surrounded by the illusions propagated by the foggy jungle and the slimy manager, and instills in Marlow a grudging sense of respect for Kurtz. Marlow gains even more respect for Kurtz when he hears stories of Kurtz working nonstop for his ivory. While Marlow does not necessarily approve of the “unsound” methods used, he does appreciate Kurtz’s relentless quest for ivory, which directly contrast the manager’s laziness and mirror his own journey for both rivets and a sailing job. Yet the most potent example of Kurtz’s honestly to both himself and the world at large appears in Kurtz’s famous last words: “The horror! The horror!” (101). Exemplifying Kurtz’s honest self-realization of the atrocities and exploitations he propagated earlier, these last words reaffirm Marlow’s previous beliefs concerning the barbaric nature of imperialism, and Kurtz’s willingness to think for himself and break the ideals society sets for him endears him to Marlow. Marlow may not like Kurtz’s immoral methods for acquiring ivory at all, but he certainly respects Kurtz’s bluntness and determination.
In the wilderness of the...

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