Heart of Darkness

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Heart of Darkness When questioning whether or not Joseph Conrad was an imperialist, a racist or both for that matter, the answer should be quite obvious after reading some of his works, such as, Heart of Darkness. Everywhere you look in this book, there is both imperialism and racism illustrated. Through Kurtz, Conrad's imperialist side breaks through and likewise, through Marlow Conrad's racist views come to life. According to Dictionary.com, imperialism is "when one nation exerts political, economic, social or military control or influence over another nation or people." During the 19th century, everyone was in search of a better life. They all wanted more money therefore, more power. In order to do so, various people had to travel great lengths to unclaimed lands to set up colonies for the sole purpose of making profits off of the resources at hand. In Heart of Darkness, Kurtz went to the Congo for "The Company" in pursuit of ivory tusks that he can sell to the bourgeoisie all over the world. He set up a trading post and became the most prevalent businessman in the area. Kurtz soon ventured away from his European customs and had to resort to his inner "darkness" and abandon all "civilized" forms of being. Even though the men who worked for the Company described what they do as "trade," and that their treatment of natives is a part of civilization, the company did not approve of Kurtz's blatant abuse of power and complete disregard for his actions as the new "god" of that area. Kurtz is open about the fact that he does not trade, he takes the ivory by force, and he describes his own treatment of the natives with the words "suppression" and "extermination." This view of the Company shows how imperialistic the Europeans are at that time. They want the new land to be civilized and claimed under the British flag, but they want it done their way to maintain the order that they have worked so hard to establish. Conrad's racism is portrayed in the actions and perceptions of Marlow along his trip up the Congo. Marlow's views of the area during the beginning of the trip are given as inhumane, and uncivilized. The Heart of Darkness for Marlow is the ignorance and brutality that he witnesses from natives as well as Whites that are met upon his trip.

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