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The heart of darkness by Joseph Conrad’s being one of the best English literature novels since Victorian era has received an outstanding post colonialist criticism. Over the recent decades, the fiction has been accused of promoting racism and exploitation of Africans by European imperialism. The novelist’s views life as primarily social process. At first he is concerned with social related problems. Conrad makes a departure from the tradition. He writes a fiction neither for entertainment nor to propagate his social ideas, but to explore the total matrix of conflict and contradiction in human nature. The novel under discussion was the subject for his higher learning doctorial thesis. He formulates the proposition that, there is an unbridgeable gap between the worlds of ideals and reality( Murfin 34),.
The avenue is set along river Thames in West Africa and England. Marlow expresses his interest to go to Africa to his Aunt. By her assistant he finds a position of captain in the steam boat. While in Africa Marlow finds the blacks being mistreated and doing worthless work for whites. Throughout his stay in, Africans are presented as inferior to their European tyrants and suffer a lot in the hands of the whites (Said 6).
The matter on question is put to light when Achebe describes Conrad as being bloody and racist. In his essay, He points out that western society views Africa as a foil to Europe. He argues that Conrad text describes and display western desire of exploitation (Achebe 130). The dominance and control of the ivory trade by whites shows that they were thirsty for wealth and power. This reveals the selfish motive and the major objective of the imperialism to invade Africa. The fact that the whites were spreading education, civilization and religion was only a a mere tool for brain washing African minds and trick them to take away the treasure which was on their hands by the benefit of the whites. The myth that all Europe contributed to the making of Kurtz, said by Marlow in the Heart of Darkness is a symbol of plunder, which symbolizes the major wave in Europe during the 19th century and was a tool to gain of materially and politically by Europeans(Said 45).
Marlow brings the matter of critics into focus by exploring that Conrad was an imperial agent sent to exploit the economic potential of the Dark Continent. This is evident when Marlow first meets Kurtz. He acknowledges him as genius universal person who was sent to bring light of civilization to Africa by the international community. Marlow reads some of the reports and remarks them wonderful. He points out that all Kurtz send twice ivory as much all others put together (Conrad76).
Conrad does adopt much of the imperialism language and ideologies; he uses derogatory terms for black people. He often refers Africans as nigger. This inordinate frequent use of the term is a major interest to psychoanalysts and portrays him as a pure racist, who perpetuates the damaging stereotype for black people in the western world (Achebe 101).
Despite of his smart arguments and good intentions, Conrad fails to escape the reality of imperialism culture of exploitation and mistreatment of the blacks. Instead he compliments and participates as a key player in executing and accomplishing their evil missions of oppressions and uncaring. This is depicted when Marlow is accompanied by some white men down the stream in search for ivory trading centers and one of them is killed by savages, the burial is hurriedly done without respect. (Achebe 34).
Conrad gives an account of forced labor to Africans, he points out that they were subjected to corporal punishments, robbery with violence, aggravated murders and a great scale of mistreatment by colonial whites. This describes Conrad and his western people as mare brutal and inhuman beings who sit and eat from the sweat of Africans (Achebe 59).
In addition, Conrad paints a picture of heartless clerks running the ivory trade in Belgian Congo. The accountant expresses immaculate harsh remarks over the dying Kurtz who dies from illness on his way back to England. This shows that Kurtz had lost a sense of humanity and reality and he was living without any virtue vices dominated him. In compliment of his behavior, he allows the Africans to practice terrible rituals and worship him, the most amazing example is presented during his death, when he lies helpless in his bed waiting for death, unable to walk, and he crawls on his hands and knees in an attempt to join the pagan rituals, which were being offered to him. This portrays him as an atheist
In conclusion, the whites brought civilization, education and new religion in Africa, but on the other side they took away the freedom, economic and political power from Africans.