Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness

1271 Words3 Pages

In the present era of decolonization, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness presents one of fictions strongest accounts of British imperialism. Conrad’s attitude towards imperialism and race has been the subject of much literary and historical debate. Many literary critics view Conrad as accepting blindly the arrogant attitude of the white male European and condemn Conrad to be a racist and imperialists. The other side vehemently defends Conrad, perceiving the novel to be an attack on imperialism and the colonial experience. Understanding the two viewpoints side by side provides a unique understanding that leads to a commonality that both share; the novel simply presents a criticism of colonialists in Africa. The novel merely portrays a fictional account of British imperialism in the African jungle, where fiction offers maximum entertainment it lacks in focus. The novel is not a critique of European colonialism and imperialism, but rather a presentation of colonialism and the theme of darkness throughout the novel sheds a negative light on the selfishness of humanity and the system that was taking advantage of the native peoples. In Joseph Conrad’s novel, Heart of Darkness, Conrad presents a criticism of British imperial colonization not for the purpose of taking sides, but with aims of bettering the system that was in place during Conrad’s experience in the African Congo. Conrad uses the character of Marlow and his original justification of imperialism so long as it was efficient and unselfish that was later transformed when the reality of colonialism displayed the selfishness of man, to show that colonialism throughout history displaces the needs of the mother country over the colonized peoples and is thus always selfish. Understan... ... middle of paper ... ...stry. Conrad displays a respect for the African’s culture, strongly denouncing the European interference that disordered their way of life. The colonizers fail to identify completely with the native people and culture and instead are attempting to better them according to their own conception while robbing civilizations of their natural resources. Attempting to answer the question of Conrad’s view on imperialism is an impossible task, as comparing the dominant views of the time that supported imperialism with the dominant views of today that oppose imperialism is contradictory. Anti-imperialism was slow to develop after the original application during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Conrad’s critique of British imperial colonization was paramount in forming the anti-imperialists movement that saw the decolonization process that is still taking place to date.

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