Imperialism : The White Man 's Burden Essay examples

Imperialism : The White Man 's Burden Essay examples

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“Take up the White Man’s burden/send forth the best ye breed/ Go send your sons to exile/ to serve your captive’s need,” reads Rudyard Kipling’s poem: “The White Man’s Burden.” The white man’s burden was the popular idea that white men were morally and intellectually superior to other races, and were, therefore, responsible for civilizing lesser peoples, and“serving their captive’s need.” Often, this concept was used to justify imperialism by disguising an otherwise exploitative institution with an air of morality. Joseph Conrad explores the insincere nature of imperialism in “Heart of Darkness” through Marlow: a steamboat captain, and his journey into the heart of the Congo to extract a violent, greedy, ivory trader named Kurtz. Marlow encounters horrible racism and brutality against the native Africans, but his indifferent reactions truly reveal the nature of imperialistic oppression. Conrad illuminates the hypocrisy of imperialism through Marlow’s collision with the Africans and the mistreatment to which they are subjected.
When Marlow arrives in Africa, his purpose is to trade and civilize, but the reality of European treatment of the natives proves to be much different, demonstrating the hypocrisy in the presentation of imperialism. Marlow first describes the noble endeavor that is imperialism. He says, “Hunters for gold or pursuers of fame...messengers of the might...The dreams of men...the germs of empires…”(Conrad 11). The imperialists are described as brave, altruistic pioneers of goodness, bringing light and civilization to other lands, carrying the white man’s burden. However, the actual system of European imperialism does not live up to this grandiose ideas, as shown in Marlow’s subsequent interactions with Africans...


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... to light the hypocritical morals that contributed to an imperial system which lasted for hundreds of years. The cruelty of imperialism, while implemented for economic gain, was justified by presenting it as a benevolent, mutually-beneficial system when in fact, it was parasitic. The “white man’s burden” was a convenient disguise for deeply embedded racism that both Marlow, and Conrad audience refused to acknowledge, as African imperialism continued for decades after the publication of “Heart of Darkness.” While Europeans preached about civilizing the African savages, they systematically murdered their fellow man--the epitome of hypocrisy-- and used the same tactics as Marlow to dodge the moral responsibility. Ultimately, Conrad reveals that the hypocritical, imperialist mindset is inherently immoral, since the true savagery lies in the system of imperialism itself.

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