Myriad paradoxes of Imperialism are well exposed in the novel. This factor also forms one of the major themes of the novel, which is manifested with the operation of ego, super-ego and identification of every individual with suppressed and forbidden primitive instinct of savagery (Conrad, “The Heart of Darkness”). Thesis Statement This essay intends to explore the paradoxes of Imperialism manifested at myriad levels in the novel subtly presented through the intricate instinct of human being to revert back to primitivism. Paradoxes of Imperialism Reflected Before delineating with the multiple paradoxes of Imperialism operating throughout the novel, it is very important to express that the issues of imperialism that captivates the novel entirely are complicated. The spectacle of torture, slavery and de-humanized treatment of the colonizer upon the colonized is deliberately developed at a slow pace through the trajectory of Marlow’s journey from the Outer Station to the Central Station and ultimately to the river which is named in the novella as Inner Station. The entire journey which Marlow covers through these areas projects a very harsh panorama of colonial enterprise. A close introspection to the plot of the novella also launches the readers to a paradigm where the adventures undertaken by Marlow and the momentary drive behind all those adventurous plunge hints at the rhetoric inherently associated with the means that justify the hypocrisy of the imperial system. The men working for the company execute exploitation in the name of “trade” and their treatment to the native Africans are justified as a process of civilizing them (Conrad 3-100). If the character of Kurtz is observed carefully then one can find the true paradox of imperialism operating in the novel. He does not consider his taking of ivory with force as any kind of trade. He confesses what he executes. His treatment of the natives is clearly termed by him as “suppression” and “extermination”. He is peaceably fine with this fact that he reigns with the means of violence and threats. Kurtz’s perverse and dishonest nature is responsible for his downfall. But at the core of his fall the primitive pursuit of mankind behind the sophistry evolves out. This instinct is savage and inherent in every individual (Conrad 3-200). The novel “Heart of Darkness” is a marathon against the oppression inflicted on the non-whites behind the imperial pursuit and is projected in a more harsh and sinister way. For Marlow, the Africans turn out to be a mere backdrop. He calls his helmsman as machinery and the black mistress of Kurtz as a fine example of statuary. It is subjugated to a human screen where Marlow can work out his philosophical struggle for existential crisis. For Marlow as well, the presence of the natives and their exoticism, supplies fuel to his pursuit of self contemplation. In the case of Marlow there is no trace of open racial abuse or colonial violence. Nevertheless, the kind of dehumanization projected through the philanthropic and philosophical zeal of Marlow is an exemplary outcome of Imperial aggression. At one plane, “
Heart of Darkness Reflecting the Paradoxes of Imperialism in the Late Nineteenth Century Table of Contents Table of Contents 2 Introduction 3 Thesis Statement 4 Paradoxes of Imperialism Reflected 4 Conclusion 6 Works Cited 7 Introduction “Heart of Darkness” is considered to be a novella that epitomizes the hollow aspect of civilization in the post-modern society…
225-236)“Never comfortable with his adopted English culture, Conrad used his experiences in different parts of the world during his career in the merchant navy to explore in his writing aspects of cultural dissonance and cultural isolation” This story is written by Conrad in the 19th century and revolves around the journey of a white man to African continent to engage in trade with another black trader in Congo.
For instance, Bagehot relates that groups of people conquering other groups of people is merely the principle of “survival of the fittest” and that the dominant group’s gains in war benefit all of society in the big picture. He illustrates that in conquering another group, the one group possesses something of importance that the other one doesn’t have.
This study looks into “The Heart of Darkness”, one of the great literary criticisms of the process of imperial expansion in Africa. Yet Marlowe, the main character, is originally fascinated by imperialism and the possibilities that exploring Africa has to offer to a young man seeking his fortune and a name for himself.
Conrad continuously uses metaphors and symbolism as a method of reinforcing the differences between African native beliefs and those of the more exploitive British Empire, such as comparing the Thames to the Congo as if representing the struggles between blacks and whites at the time.
Conrad wrote this novel in 1890s during the time when European placed the darkest sites of the world under their control. Europeans scrambled and stretched their powers outside their continent to far parts of Africa. This novel provides an account of European imperial activities in Congo.
Thus, it seems that Joseph Conrad’s work gives the readers a chance to identify how European ideals are darker than the African ones as the work is, in some way, a comparison of both. The novella takes place in Congo. The work is in the form of a narration by Marlow from a barge on Thames.
He searched for Kurtz and encountered a man who took him to a realization that he never expected. The novel depicts imperialism in complex ways. Perhaps the clearest illustration of imperialism was when Marlow reached the outer station. Surrounded by slave workers, with large holes filled with broken machines around him, he said that “imperialism is really composed of the bodies he had seen”.
In Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad skilfully exposes the moral conundrum of imperialism. This essay discusses how Heart of Darkness reflects the paradoxes of imperialism in the late nineteenth century. Conrad describes the paradox of imperialism that arises from its contradictions in aims and outcomes, where it dehumanises colonisers, the colonised, and Western human civilisation.
Marlow initially sees Kurtz as a mad man. He realizes that when in the presence of boundless temptations, any man could go a little mad. He sees the very extremes of madness in Kurtz, the man who couldn't hold on to his soul when a chance for its corruption presented itself.