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Acts of Imperialism in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness and Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now

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Imperialism is the act of one country overtaking another country. Often, the motive behind this is for resources, as portrayed in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Other times, a country may want to expand their territories, or force their beliefs and customs on another land. This is seen in Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now. In Apocalypse Now, protagonist Jerry Willard is sent on a confidential mission during the Vietnam War. While voyaging up the river, Willard notices the excessive tactics used by the Americans. America advertised that they went to war with Vietnam to prevent the spread of communism. However, it is obvious that throughout most imperialistic literature the group colonizing natives are the true savages. Considering that this theme is frequent among imperialistic writing, one may assume that imperialism is a violent, unnecessary concept used by brutes with no sense of open-mindedness. One may deduce that America may have had an ulterior motive in attempting to take over Vietnam. In Conrad's Heart of Darkness, imperialism is viewed by Marlow as aggressive and insincere. Marlow often notes that the so-called savages show more restraint than the "civilized" men. In Conrad's novel, the genuine reasoning for pillaging African villages is to rob the land of it's most precious resource, ivory. Though, these pieces are contrasting in style, time period, and reasoning; the two works compliment each other and show the horrors of imperialism through the eyes of someone witnessing it.
The plots of these two works are parallel. In Apocalypse Now, Willard, like Marlow, is sent on a mission. However, he is sent to kill Col. Kurtz, whereas Marlow is asked to bring him back with him. Apocalypse Now presents Kurtz as a psych...


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...ed on the waves, despite the fact that their lives are all in danger and they are murdering hundreds of people. Killgore is oblivious to the destruction he is causing, and doesn't even realize that the reason Willard and Lance leave is because he is being irrational. This entire scene mocks the selfishness of the officers during war, Killgore in particular; this also displays the absurdity of imperialism in general.
Apocalypse Now is a presentation of imperialism in a more contemporary setting, the Vietnam War, to which more people can relate. Heart of Darkness is a classic imperialistic novel portraying the same basic events in Apocalypse Now. However, because Apocalypse Now is visual representation, it is more widely accepted than Heart of Darkness. Despite the contrasts, they both show the ignorance of imperialism and the destruction and selfishness it displays.



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