In “Heart of Darkness” Joseph Conrad puts a very complex and diverse theme for the readers at the same time. He used the metaphysical themes in his novel for describing colonial Africa’s historical setting, along with the concern of gender, nationality, and race. Due to the great fictional meaning of the Heart of darkness, it earned a great fame in the entire world. The author uses the main theme of the hypocrisy of imperialism, the irrationality of the evil, and the madness that was the results of imperialism (Brantlinger, 4363-3856).
The “Heart of darkness” is a novella means it is between a novel and a short story in both scope and length. The author uses the genre of colonial literature, frame story, symbolism, adventure tale, even a romance in its insistence on the supernatural and heroism. The author uses the English language for his novella and for defining the characters. The author uses two narrators in this short story, one is the Marlow that shows the character of the author itself, and in the novella that Marlow is a middle-aged ship’s captain (Sayeau, 20-33). While the other one is the passenger on that pleasure ship, whose captain is Marlow.
The author uses the “Heart of Darkness” to refer imperialism as at that time European were busy in expanding there colonizes and moreover, they wanted to capture the land. The term imperialism is referred as an action by which a state extends its power by acquiring the inhabited terrain by the diplomacy or military forces. Moreover, the author’s novella can be determined as illustrating the racism due to the usage of the word primitive or savages instead of referring to the first person for the Congolese. As the same words are being used in the story which shows that the European considered themselves superior and they considered the Africans as native and wanted to turn them into a civilized person. the author uses the tone of the Ambivalent in his novella, as the Marlow is revolted by the cruelty of the company and horrified due to the Kurtz’s disintegration, and the author also claims that any person would be drawn in the same manner.
The setting of the story is in the latter part of the nineteenth century, most probably between 1876 to 1892. In the novella, Marlow is telling the story on the Thames River outside London, and the main events of the story take place at the company office in Brussels, in the Congo and in a Belgian territory. The author uses a different image of the Kurtz and Marlow for showing the main conflict of civilized Europeans and their inducement to unrestraint the morality as they left the context of the European society. The author expresses the corrupt ideology of the western societies for their pretending of help for the Africans that are less privileged to improved living standards (David, 1165-1183). However, on the dark side, their interest was not to get those African good living standard, instead, they had their own personal values and interest in that effort. The author called the European as criminals and livid or outraged laws and it was shown that how the bursting shells came towards them form over of the sea.
The author presented the impression of the whites, as they want the land instead of only colonizing and wanted to treat the African as slaves, and they beat the slaves, which is quite trivial that how much weak all of them were (Said, 5-19). Furthermore, the author expresses the perspective of whites that how they want to engage themselves in power and wanted to dominate all the other nations.
Additionally, the author says that how the whites are capable of the exploitation of the blacks by their impression of superiority. The author also states the fact of superiority that how the whites believed that they are a supreme race among every other race of the world, and how they believed that civilizing the Congolese means the savage is their responsibility. Besides, the author presented himself as Marlow character in this story. He tells that how he learned about the imperialism, as men always dreamed of expanding their territory. Conrad shows the theme of white imperialism by his visit to Congo. Also, Conrad speaks about the British conquest n the ancient roman that who they captured the areas by using the brute force (Hawkins, 286-299). He referred this conquest as the “robbery with violence”, which demonstrate about the British conquest that how they murdered on the larger scale.
The author as a character as Marlow in the story demonstrates the evil that negative imperialism has caused and declared this as unnecessary. As the Marlow states about the mission of heavenly civilizing in the novella, his intentions were in the favor of the Africans, as he wants Africa to progress and advance in life. Also, Marlow in the novella states that he is phony in the foreign land, but beside of it, he wants to stick to the true moral values. As he states “their enemies” in the novella, he states about the reality of Europe and the citizens. Moreover, as the Marlow travels towards the outer station in the story, he came to view some serious cruelty, and slavery, which shows the imperialism and the racism of the citizens by the Belgians. Imperialism is attached towards the slavery, due to which this slavery gives the idea of imperialism in the story.
Conrad’s Heart of Darkness shows that in what way the European deliberated themselves the greater among all the other races of the world, and how they reflected themselves more cultured than others do at that time. While, on the other hand, the Africans were considered as primitive and inferior. In addition, the Story demonstrates that European intentions were not only colonialized the African areas but wanted to capture their land too. The main purpose of this colonization of Africa is not to make them civilized, but rather European interest was their land, and then they made them their slaves. European believed that the Africans have no comparison for them, as they are more civilized and have good appearance than the Africans, which they think makes them superior.
Brantlinger, Patrick. Rule of Darkness: British literature and imperialism, 1830–1914. Cornell University Press, 1990.
Sayeau, Michael. “Work, Unemployment, and the Exhaustion of Fiction in” Heart of Darkness”.” Novel: A Forum on Fiction. Vol. 39. No. 3. Duke University Press, 2006.
David, Paul A., and Bronwyn H. Hall. “Heart of darkness: modeling public-private funding interactions inside the R&D black box.” Research Policy 29.9 (2000): 1165-1183.
Brantlinger, Patrick. “Heart of Darkness”:” Anti-Imperialism, Racism, or Impressionism?.” Criticism 27.4 (1985): 363-385.
Hawkins, Hunt. “Conrad’s Critique of Imperialism in Heart of Darkness.” Publications of the Modern Language Association of America (1979): 286-299.
Said, Edward W. “Two visions in Heart of Darkness.” Bloom’s Modern Critical Interpretations (2008): 5-19.