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Imperialism in Heart of Darkness Essay

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Throughout Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad a sense of imperialism is present. Imperialism is defined as “acquiring and holding colonies and dependencies”. Through the novel many of the travels Marlow encounters contain imperialist ideas. The whole continent is used as a symbol for this theme. So therefore you can tell that imperialism is just as bad as the disease that many people get from the Congo, they become infected. Which truly begs the question, is it just the Congo that turns us ill, or is there a sense of darkness inside of us lurking around waiting to come out.
At the beginning of the novel, Marlow is traveling the jungle and the many scenes of life can be seen. Africa has seems to be taken over by many travelers which makes one wonder what is there ulterior motive? Africa is a third world country, which makes it easy for someone to come in and talk on their soapbox. It is very easy to tell that these men are not the biggest fans of colored people, so it is plausible that they have come to instill a sense of imperialism. As Marlow passes through the waters of the Congo it is easily visible the trouble of the natives. “Black shapes crouched, lay, sat between the trees, leaning against the trunks, clinging to the earth half coming out, half effaced with the dim light, in all the attitudes of pain, abandonment, and despair.” (20) Show that the holding of these colonies has started. The soldiers have come in and taken the inhabitants and are destroying them and taking from them the one thing they deserve over everything, life. The imperialists seem to not care about the Africans and are just there for their land.
Compared to 19th century imperialism it is almost the same. The imperialism of the 19th and 20th centur...


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...t a side of people that is not of the norm. Which connects imperialist thought to the madness of the jungle. Which makes someone wonder if the soldiers never entered the jungle, would they be normal? Or have they always had a need to kill and mange people. Although it may be good for expansion and for the right technology to come in, but do innocent people have to die in the by standing?
Through out this novel a lot of different themes are present, and is very graphic but it can be seen that even at the end Marlow questions his sanity because of the jungle. Even the thick taste of the jungle is dangerous as Marlow says in the final lines of the book. “The offing was barred by a black bank of clouds, and the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed somber under an overcast sky – seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness.” (96)



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