European Imperialism In Joseph Conrad's The Heart Of Darkness

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The Heart of Darkness, a complex text was written by Joseph Conrad around the 19th century, when Europeans were colonizing Africa for wealth and power and were attempting to spread their culture and religion in Africa. It was also a period in which women were not allowed to participate in worldly affairs. Therefore, the text deals with issues such as racism, European imperialism, and misogyny. This essay will look at the different themes in the novel and argue whether or not The Heart of Darkness is a work of art.
By definition art is an expression of human creative skills that are appreciated for their beauty or emotional power. Since The Heart of Darkness consists of somewhat dark themes, it has received mass criticism from people like Achebe
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The notion blank space suggests that Africa is uninhabited and, therefore, any country can assert power over it. Again, Conrad eliminates Africa from the rest of the world by calling it a blank space and denying the fact that it is a country with its rules and people. The Heart of Darkness talks about the exploitation of Africa by the Eldorado Exploring Expedition, it is a group of five white men and their purpose is to exploit Africa out of its resources, mostly ivory. In doing so, they also spread their culture, religion and laws onto the natives. The first law that the Europeans imposed was taxation since the natives didn’t have money they sold their bodies to work, and eventually the Europeans became slaveholders. They treated the native’s body as an object and inflicted several atrocities on them, including cutting off hands and feet. They justified their actions by stating that they are civilising the savage natives, but as we read the text we begin to question who are the real animals; the primitive natives or the educated Europeans who instigate nefarious activities on those…show more content…
Joseph Conrad states that “they, the women are out of it, should be out of it. We must help them to stay in that beautiful world of their own.” (pg.122) In The Heart of Darkness women are portrayed as naive, innocent creatures who cannot face reality or the truth, hence they remain delusional. A perfect example of this is the Intended, who is incapable of accepting the truth and is the only character who remains in her delusional world. Conrad describes the women in a stereotypical, old-fashioned manner and this is why he receives criticism from Nina Pelikan, who says, “Marlow presents a world distinctly spilled into male and female realms, the first harbouring the possibility of truth and the second dedicated to the maintenance of delusion.” In The Heart of Darkness, Conrad has exhibited a male dominant society where men have the upper hand and women are subservient to men. The Intended is a perfect example of this, she remained servile to Kurtz, who was the dominant figure in her life and controlled everything. Conrad shows the innocence of women in the beginning when Marlow’s aunt views him as an emissary of light who will educate the African native, but Marlow tells her that the company is run for profit, not missionary work and later tells his friends how women are out of touch with the truth. It is ironic how Conrad depicts women as a symbolism for innocence, yet it is the women who facilitate the men at

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