Heart of Darkness as Social Protest
Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad, is an intriguing and extremely
disturbing portrayal of man's surrender to his carnal nature when all
external trappings of "civilization" are removed. This novel excellently
portrays the shameful ways in which the Europeans exploited the Africans:
physically, socially, economically, and spiritually.
Throughout the nineteenth century, Europeans treated their African
counterparts savagely. They were beaten, driven from their homes, and
enslaved. Heart of Darkness is no exception. In the first section of the
novel, Marlow is disgusted by the condition of the Africans at the First
Station. His encounter with the chain gang sickens him to the point where
he is forced to wait for them to pass. He even takes a separate path to
avoid encountering them again.
While avoiding the chain gang, Marlow stumbles upon the object of
their work-"a vast artificial hole...the purpose of which I found it
impossible to divine." Apparently, to keep them occupied and thus "out of
trouble," the natives are forced to do meaningless, pointless exercises.
Marlow is shocked by this total subjugation of the Africans and the
completely pointless work which they are forced to perform.
Prior to 1807, the Europeans directly enslaved the Africans. After
1807, Britain, and eventually most European countries, banned the slave
trade. However, this did not stop the Eldorado Exploring Expedition, whose
members Marlow described as "reckless without hardihood, gree...
... middle of paper ...
...heads of the natives he killed, those "heads on
the stakes" with their faces turned toward the house, to show his complete
and total dominance over their lives. After this, the natives could not
but help view him with a supernatural aura. He also forced anyone
approaching him to crawl on all fours and grovel at his feet. This,
coupled with the fact that he did not allow very many people to see him,
reinforced his god-like authority.
In the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries, the
Europeans shamelessly exploited the Africans. Conrad, who had been to
Africa, makes no effort to gloss over the gross abuses of power of the
Europeans and their inhumane treatment of the natives. Taken in this light,
Heart of Darkness serves as an excellent novel of social protest.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Heart of Darkness has been reviewed by many different critics. There are many issues in Joseph Conrad’s book such as imperialism, cruelty, and how isolation can change a person. A noticeable topic in the book is the ending with Marlow. The book has an outer and inner story. Marlow tells the inner story because it is of his previous experience in Africa. In the beginning of the book, Marlow says that he hates lying yet he lies to Kurtz’s Intended. In order to figure out why Marlow lied and how it affects the story, evidence from different sources must be viewed.... [tags: Heart of Darkness Essays]
2550 words (7.3 pages)
- It is said no man is an island, no man stands alone. True human existence can not prevail positively or productively without the dynamics of society. In many ways society has put restrictions on man, and has held him back from his surroundings. It can also be said that in today’s society is blinded by the fantasies and stereotypes that surround them. Therefore man remains confined to realms of the world, which in turns cripples humanity. This society has placed man in his own bubble and left him to suffer, and to die if he does not measure up to the prevailing social standings.... [tags: Metamorphosis, Heart of Darkness]
843 words (2.4 pages)
- A Journey into Darkness in Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad, in his story, "Heart of Darkness," tells the tale of two mens' realization of the dark and evil side of themselves. Marlow, the "second" narrator of the framed narrative, embarked upon a spiritual adventure on which he witnessed firsthand the wicked potential in everyone. On his journey into the dark, forbidden Congo, Marlow encountered Kurtz, a "remarkable man" and "universal genius," who had made himself a god in the eyes of the natives over whom he had an imperceptible power. These two men were, in a sense, images of each other: Marlow was what Kurtz may have been, and Kurtz was what Marlow may h... [tags: Heart Darkness essays]
1433 words (4.1 pages)
- The Theme of Darkness in Conrad's Heart of Darkness Works Cited Not Included It has been said that although Conrad may not have been 'the greatest novelist, he was certainly the greatest artist every to write a novel';. I feel that this is an apt description of Conrad's writing style in Heart of Darkness (1902), as he paints many verbal pictures by using expressive words and many figurative descriptions of places and people. An extensive use of words relating to colour, is evident throughout the novella.... [tags: Heart Darkness Joseph Conrad Essays]
1326 words (3.8 pages)
- Depiction of Africa in Heart of Darkness Chinua Achebe believes that Joseph Conrad's Heart Of Darkness is racist based on Conrad's descriptions of Africa and it's people. Achebe, author of Things Fall Apart, stresses Conrad's depiction of Africa as the antithesis of Europe and civilization, and the animal imagery present throughout the novella. Heart of Darkness, written in 1899 during the period of British Imperialism, concerns a British trading company and their expedition into the Congo for ivory.... [tags: Heart Darkness essays]
494 words (1.4 pages)
- An Analysis of Conrad's Heart of Darkness In the twentieth century, nihilistic themes, such as moral degeneration, man's bestial instincts at the core of the soul, and cosmic purposelessness, have preoccupied many works of literature and philosophy.... [tags: Conrad Heart Darkness]
1464 words (4.2 pages)
- Pure Horror in Heart of Darkness In Heart of Darkness it is the white invaders for instance, who are, almost without exception, embodiments of blindness, selfishness, and cruelty; and even in the cognitive domain, where such positive phrases as "to enlighten," for instance, are conventionally opposed to negative ones such as "to be in the dark," the traditional expectations are reversed. In Kurtz's painting, as we have seen, "the effect of the torch light on the face was sinister" (Watt 332).... [tags: Heart Darkness essays]
1462 words (4.2 pages)
- Racism in Heart of Darkness I find no elements of racism in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. I will admit that I began reading this with a little hesitation based on the fact that I do not like to read about human cruelty. However, after reading the story, I did not feel any negative feelings toward the story or author. I feel one must realize that the occurrences of this story were really happening. I do not feel that by the virtue of performing a task that one is hired to do makes one a racist.... [tags: HOD Joseph Conrad Heart of Darkness]
587 words (1.7 pages)
- Heart of Darkness: Racist or not. Many critics, including Chinua Achebe in his essay "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness", have made the claim that Joseph Conrad's novel Heart of Darkness, despite the insights which it offers into the human condition, ought to be removed from the canon of Western literature. This claim is based on the supposition that the novel is racist, more so than other novels of its time. While it can be read in this way, it is possible to look under the surface and create an interpretation of Conrad's novel that does not require the supposition of extreme racism on the part of Conrad.... [tags: HOD Joseph Conrad Heart of Darkness]
874 words (2.5 pages)
- Racism in Heart of Darkness Heart of Darkness is a social commentary on imperialism, but the characters and symbols in the book have a meaning for both the psychological and cultural aspects of Marlow’s journey. Within the framework of Marlow’s psychedelic experience is an exploration of the views the European man holds of the African man. These views express the conflict between the civilized and the savage, the modern and the primordial, the individual and the collective, the moral and the amoral, that is part of the general psychedelic experience.... [tags: HOD Joseph Conrad Heart of Darkness]
3449 words (9.9 pages)