Politics in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness

Politics in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness

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Politics in Heart Of Darkness  


Anyone can read Heart Of Darkness and easily sense the attitude of Conrad toward English politics. Many times throughout Heart Of Darkness Conrad points out the pointlessness and savagery of English colonization. Conrad also comments a bit on society as a whole. With these two ideas added to the book, there is no wonder of why Heart of Darkness is such a touching novel.

            Through several examples, Conrad often shows the pointlessness and savagery of the English colonization in Africa. Probably the first instance of this is when Marlow comes up to the French-man who is "shelling the bush". In this scene, the French see something move and so they start shelling it for that reason. The shelling really does no good; if fact, it probably does not even kill what is out there. This represents what the English are doing in a way -- they are trying to conquer a land by shelling it to death and by trying to kill all the people who live there. The next example that Conrad gives is when he sees the black guard, who is leading the black slaves in a chain gang, straighten up when he sees a white man. What this shows is how everyone tries to look better than they are when they are in front of a supposed superior person. Also it shows that if a person can suck up enough -- and sometimes betray their own people -- they can move up in the world.


Probably the biggest example of the pointless of colonization is when Marlow is walking around and he sees big holes just around, a train and tools rusting to pieces, and when he hears blasts that seem to do nothing. What this shows is that the English presence in Africa does no good but create a empty hole in it (the big hole), that the English are just was wasting their time and money on a needless project (the rusting objects), and that the English seem to do nothing in Africa (the pointless blasting). One the final examples that he gives is the manager. This manager is all dressed up in "proper" clothes, must have everything in a perfect order, and complains about the sick man in the corner of the room. This symbolizes how uncaring the English are in their pursuit for ivory.

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This man is prim and proper -- just like every English-man should be -- and this man gets so agitated when the sick man moans -- just like English's attitude toward the natives.

            Conrad also makes a comment or two about society as a whole. Conrad often says in Heart Of Darkness men will do anything to get ivory -- hence, to get rich. Kurtz is a perfect example of this. He left home in search of more money to help his soon-to-be family. But instead of getting a fortune, he finds himself and he cannot handle it. Conrad also makes a comment on a man's inner-self. Again Kurtz is a perfect example of this. Man is not meant to understood himself completely, but Kurtz did; and that is what killed him. It took hold of him It would not let go. Probably the last comment that Conrad makes on society is that the human race is a savage race. All throughout the book there are people killing for no particular reason than just to do it. And an extreme of this can be seen when the actual "savages" that follow Kurtz kill and hang "shrunken heads" for him. What is ironic is that some the most un-savage people that Marlow ran into were his cannibalistic crew -- stereotypically the most savage of all creatures.

            By commenting on English colonization and human nature, Conrad was able to make a simple story complex and meaningful. Many people have studied Heart Of Darkness in order to find these two topics.  This interest is provoked by that the themes of Heart Of Darkness can easily be related to today's society and today's mental thought. It is because of this that Heart of Darkness is considered such a great novel.



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