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Discuss how The Heart of Darkness reflects the paradoxes of imperialism in the late 19th century. - Essay Example

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Name Instructor Class 18 February 2012 The Horrors of the Darkness of Imperialism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness Heart of Darkness is one of arguably the finest literary criticisms of imperial expansion in nineteenth-century Africa. Marlowe is caught between the fascination for the wealth of imperialism and its disturbing consequences…

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Discuss how The Heart of Darkness reflects the paradoxes of imperialism in the late 19th century.

The first paradox of Heart of Darkness refers to how the civilising mission of imperialism resulted to the dehumanisation of the colonisers. When waging imperialism, Europeans asserted their moral, social, and intellectual ascendancy, as they aimed to civilise all that is brute and different from their culture. Conrad shows, however, that the Western imperialist man has lost his heart to the darkness of imperialism. Maritime Hennard Dutcheil De La Rochere argues that Conrad uses the body of Africa as a trope for the ironic effects of European civilisation on colonised countries. De La Rochere asserts: “…[the] central idea… the civilising mission [is] a spiritual and moral cure, is radically undermined through an ironic literalisation of the trope…” (186). Imperialism sees itself as a cure, which must be directly applied to the heart of Africa to cure it of its backwardness. The paradox is that the cure harmed the “doctors” too. In the case of Kurtz, he became consumed of his desire for wealth, so that he would be worthy of his Intended. Imperialism, nevertheless, does not cure the uncivilised, but destroys the civilised and their notion of morality. Kurtz engages in immoral acts of waging wars with other tribes to acquire their ivories. ...
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