Colonialism and Imperialism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness

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Imperialism Exposed in Conrad's Heart of Darkness

Joseph Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness' is a novel about European imperialism and its far-reaching effects. Conrad relates his personal opinions through the protagonist, Marlow, who learns a great deal about imperialism while on a journey to the African Congo. Although 'Heart of Darkness' seems to be an anti-imperialistic work, this is not entirely true. Conrad condemns the overly idealistic nature of imperialism, but does not attack Britain's competent employment of it.

"Heart of Darkness" opens with a discussion between Marlow and his friends concerning the idealistic imperialism of conquerors, especially English, who were "bearers of a spark from the sacred fire"-the fire of civilization (1428). Marlow himself had "tingled with enthusiasm" at the thought of imperialism, as his friends do during their recollection of the past, but this is all before his experience in the Congo, where he uncovers the crudeness of the Belgians. Marlow believes that imperialism is not always "a pretty thing," but if the conquest of land is approached in ...

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