“Heart of darkness”
A critical view about Imperialism
Joseph Conrad criticized imperialism through the Belgian colony in the Congo, and not through the English ones. This is so, partly because he took command of a steam ship in the Belgian Congo in 1890 and his experiences in the Congo gave him the material for writing “Heart of darkness”.
The author makes a difference between the colonists and the conquerors. He sees the formers the knight-errant of the sea because they expand knowledge and contribute to the civilization and enlightenment of the rest of the planet. Conversely, he sees the letters as the ones who only use brute force to impose their power upon others Heart of darkness centres around Marlow , an introspective sailor and his journey up the Congo River to meet Kurtz, a man who works for a company and who is reported to be a man of great abilities. Marlow takes a job as a riverboat captain with the company, a Belgian concern organized to trade the Congo.
But when Marlow first arrives at Africa, and then up to the Congo, he encounters widespread inefficiency and brutality in the company’s station. The native inhabitants have been forced into the company’s service, and they suffer terribly from overwork, deceases and ill treatment at the hands of the company’s agents. “Heart of darkness” is as much about alienation, confusion and doubt as it is about imperialism.
Imperialism is nevertheless, at the centre of “Heart of darkness”. By the 1890’s, most of the world’s ‘dark places’ had been placed under European Control. However, in many colonies and in the Congo especially, problems started to emerge: barbarity, riots, wars, etc.
The author states that these problems are inevitably since through the imperialist system, Europeans are removed from their civilized society to the hostility a lawlessness of Africa. When Marlow arrives at the stations, he notices that Africa has provoked a kind of alienation and confusion in the white men – for instance, at one station; a man tries to carry water in a buck with a hole in it. At the outer station, a native labourer blasts away at a hillside with no particular goal in mind.
The Hypocrisy of Imperialism: When Marlow gets the post as a steam boat captain in Africa, he is old that the company has a double purpose in Africa: First, it trades goods, second, the company in a benevolent project of civilization of the savages. Moreover, the company is not concerned with any trade but ivory. They are desperate to get as much ivory as possible.
Finally, Marlow comes to the conclusion that men to extend their but dominions to Africa, but they are conquered by her and they lose their humanity and their lives.