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Heart of Darkness Response Paper

Essay by   •  May 12, 2011  •  Term Paper  •  873 Words (4 Pages)  •  1,672 Views

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The conquest of uncharted land was romanticized during the European imperialistic era. The theoretical purpose of imperialism was to enlighten the primitive natives with the European way of thinking and living. Although this was the reason given to the naïve citizens of Europe, the true purpose was for grand nations to expand their territories and their wealth by any means possible. Joseph Conrad, in Heart of Darkness, depicts the injustices thrust upon the native Africans in the Congo through his use of stereotypical character groups and imagery. Conrad reveals the reality of imperialism; it leads to the devastation of an innocent world.

Using stereotypical character groups helped Conrad create the ominous characters that destroyed the world for countless numbers of African natives. He does not refer to his characters by name; he simply calls them by their titles, for example the Company and the Manager. The lack of names for the Europeans forces the reader to believe that they were all the same corrupt individuals. Marlow refers to the Company as "a flabby, pretending, weak-eyes devil of a rapacious and pitiless folly." (pg. 20) The Company represents all the other imperialists. Imperialists are pretending because they present an image to the world that they are providing help to people who live in an undeveloped country, but they are truly utilizing these people to feed their greed. They are pitiless because they are not concerned for the African's well-being; they only care about their own personal gain. A characteristic all imperialists are supposed to share is greediness; they don't yearn to help anyone but themselves. The manager's following comment, "he bothered me enough when he was here. 'Each station should be like a beacon on the road towards better things, a center for trade of course, but also for humanizing, improving, instructing.' Conceive you--that ass! And he wasn't to be manager!" (pg. 34) illustrates the selfishness and how they are not willing to change their ways in order to help the natives they have corrupted posses an uncomplicated, more civilized life. Imperialists long to keep the natives ignorant because they won't have the knowledge to revolt against them. They wanted to construct a place where they are the leaders, in the process, they are dehumanizing people they see differently because they have different physical features and speak a different language.

Through vivid imagery, the horror the Europeans brought to the Congo was illustrated. The Imperialist did not only destroy parts of the forest, they also destroyed people. Marlow, the narrator, explains how he views the African natives; "They were not enemies, they were not criminals, they were nothing earthly now--nothing but black shadows of disease and starvation, lying confusedly in the greenish gloom." (pg. 20) The natives no longer looked like humans; they were mere remains

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