Influence Of Colonialism In Joseph Conrad's Heart Of Darkness

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Joseph Conrad’s s book Heart of Darkness portrays an image of Africa that is dark and inhuman. Not only does he describe the actual, physical land of Africa as “so hopeless and so dark, so impenetrable to human thought, so pitiless to human weakness”, (Conrad 154) as though the continent could neither breed nor support any true human life. Conrad lived through a time when European colonies were spread all over the world. This event and the doctrine of colonialism bought into at his time obviously influenced his views at the time of Heart of Darkness publication. Very few people saw anything wrong with colonialism in Africa and the African people. From a Eurocentric point of view, colonialism was the natural next-step in any powerful countries…show more content…
Darkness is presented as anything unknown to man, evil, and mysterious. To Conrad, Africa is the very representation of darkness. Marlow often says, “We penetrated deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness” (Conrad 96), to describe his journey on the Congo with a feeling of the unknown coming towards Marlow and his men. By traveling farther down the Congo, Marlow and his crew get closer and closer to the middle of this foreboding darkness, and immorality. The unknown look and feel of Africa was dark and unknown to the naked eye, “Beyond the fence the forest stood up spectrally in the moonlight, and through the dim stir, through the faint sounds of that lamentable courtyard, the silence of the land went home to one’s very heart its mystery, its greatness, the amazing reality of its concealed life” (Conrad 68). The portrayal of Africa is explained as both a romantic frontier and a foreboding wilderness; which portrays Marlow’s love and sadness of a land that has been disrespected repeatedly by man. Opposite to that, Chinua Achebe, a modern writer of “An Image of Africa”, sees Conrad’s description of the character Marlow, as a point of racism towards the people in Africa and not a positive message of that time. Achebe said, “A novel which celebrates this dehumanization, which depersonalizes a portion of the human race, can be called a great work of…show more content…
The symbolism that represents this theme is the opposition of light versus darkness. As in much of European art and literature, the imagery of “light” is associated with Western culture, civilization, knowledge, and the conscious mind. The imagery of “darkness,” on the other hand, is associated with Third World cultures (such as Africa), the primitive or savage, the unknown or mysterious, and the psychological unconscious. Many of the themes in Conrad’s story are based on this set of oppositions. Thus, European culture is contrasted with African culture, where African culture is seen to represent the primitive, unconscious mind of the white European man. Marlow’s narrative of his journey down the Congo River, and his encounter with Kurtz, expresses the anxiety of the white man who is tempted by his foray into the wilderness to go native, lose the trappings of civilization, and revert to a more primitive state of mind. Through Marlow 's state of mind of the introduction to a darkness state, he develops a light inside his own soul. Instead of being blind to the unknown and undeveloped continent he overcomes a battle with himself, which in turn, successfully overcomes battles with his savage side and comes out the darkness a changed man. It shows that no matter how good something or someone seems to be, there is always a heart of darkness down inside the souls of man. Colonialism, the journey

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