Good Joseph Conrad At His Best In Heart Of Darkness Essay Example
Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness can be grouped along with the classy modernist literature which projects the relevant themes like estrangement, bewilderment, reflective qualm, colonialism and many in the list. Imperialism is nonetheless considered as the main issue of the novel. Although Heart of Darkness can be regarded as one of the first literary texts to offer a critical outlook of European imperial deeds, it was primarily read by critics as controversial. As Paul Poplawski comments, “The novel seems purposely to bring together ‘imperialism’ and ‘meaning’ as subtly interrelated historical issues of the day and it provides a good example of how literary texts do not simply ‘reflect’ their historical contexts but also help actively to define them (English Literature in Context 572).
The novella reconnoiters the matters surrounding colonialism in intricate ways. As Marlowe voyages from the Outer station to the Inner Station, he happenstances scenes of distress, malice, and slavery. The related backdrop of the book offers a severe image of colonial enterprise. The impulse behind Marlowe’s exploits too, has to do with the duplicity innate in the rhetoric used to defend colonialism. For Marlow, as well as for Kurtz, Africans in the novella are mainly objects. Marlow refers to his helmsman as a piece of an equipment, and Kurtz’s African mistress is considered as a piece of sculpture. The African landscape comes before us with all its might and grandeur. Marlowe contemplates:
“Going up that river was like travelling back to the earliest beginnings of the world, when vegetation rioted on the earth and the big trees were kings. There were moments when one's past came back to one, as it will sometimes when you have not a moment to spare to yourself; but it came in the shape of an unrestful and noisy dream, remembered with wonder amongst the overwhelming realities of this strange world of plants, and water, and silence. And this stillness of life did not in the least resemble a peace. It was the stillness of an implacable force brooding over an inscrutable intention. It looked at you with a vengeful aspect (Heart of Darkness 30)
It can be argued that Heart of Darkness participates in an oppression of non whites that is much more sinister and much harder to remedy than the open abuses of Kurtz or the Company’s men. African’s become for Marlowe a mere milieu, a human screen against which he can play out his logical and existential struggles. Their survival and their exoticism facilitate his self- inspection. This dehumanization is tougher to detect than colonial ferocity or open racism. While the novella offers a powerful censure of the deceitful maneuvers of imperialism, it also presents a set of issues adjoining race that is finally more upsetting.
Hunt Hawkings highlights that:
In Heart of Darkness Marlow is essentially sympathetic to the Africans.Although, using the language of his time, he calls them "niggers" and "savages," he feels that, unlike the imperialists, "they wanted no excuse for being there" (p. 14). He sees them as "prehistoric," but he recognizes "their humanity-like yours" (296).
Heart of Darkness rates, surely, to be read for its poesy, but it demands to be appreciated for its descriptions of Africa, its ethical criticism of colonialism which was, in Conrad's comment, “the vilest scramble for loot that ever disfigured the history of human conscience and geographical exploration”(Walker xi). It is definitely more a travelogue and surely occupies a peculiar place in the world of literature.
Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. Charlottesville, Va.: U of Virginia Library, 1996. Print.