Hearts of Darkness: Post Colonialism Essay

Write a critique of Joseph Concord’s Heart of Darkness, based on your reading about post-colonialism and discussing Concord’s view of African culture as “other. ” What would someone from Africa think about this work? “Heart of Darkness” starts out in London and also ends there as well. Most of the story takes place in the Congo which is now known as the Republic of the Congo. Heart of Darkness was essentially a transitional novel between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. During the nineteenth century certain concepts in the story were considered unthinkable such as cannibalism.

The cultural relativism (which basically says that right and wrong are culture-specific) was a strong sensibility during the nineteenth century which is why it was addressed in this story. Modern readers of Hearts of Darkness may find the racial slurs used throughout the story to be offensive. However, in the nineteenth century things were different. For example, the word “Niger” was Just a variation on the pronunciation of the word “negro’ which is the Latin for black. Conrad was probably not aware that it would eventually become a derogatory term.

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In some ways, Hearts of Darkness is a blistering critique of colonialism. The story takes place at a time when it was pretty evident that colonialism was not functioning as it should. On the surface it looked like it was the height of the empire when it reality colonialism in Africa was not thriving. Conrad portrays British imperialism through Marrow, who is glad to see the “vast amount of red” on the Company’s map; which represents British territory. Marrow is grateful that the “real work is done there”; meaning salvation, religion, culture and commerce.

Conrad takes advantage of his position and the position of the colony. He portrays the reality of colonialism of the District Manager; a real imperialist. Marrow finds that the fact that the manager is never ill is his only positive quality. Marrow basically puts Kurt on a mental pedestal because he is essentially the one bringing civilization. He brings civilization through Imperialism and to the savages. However, he still managed to reap more reward, in the shape of ivory. Marrow’s opinion of Imperialism is altered several times based on his experiences tit witnessing the lengths the Imperialists would go for profit.

When Marrow meets Kurt he realizes that Kurt himself has been conquered by the darkness and this changes his opinion regarding Imperialism. The roles of Quartz’s flange and his African mistress are significant characters in the story. The Europeans don’t realize that Kurt lives a life of sin and consider him to be pure which contrasts with Marrow’s knowledge of his corruption. Conrad builds Quartz’s fiance up to symbolize the lack of presence of the British from the events in Africa. She is distraught about Quartz’s death and ponders what might have been, had Kurt not died.

Quartz’s ‘mistress’ does not appear to be grief- stricken, but is not happy as she is the only native still standing after Marrow sounded the steamer’s whistle. Quartz’s fiancé’s claimed she knew him best, but this was Just an illusion as she was not aware of the sinful life he lived. The memory she has of Kurt is a lie; since Marrow did not tell her the truth. The women in Hearts to Darkness nave two sets to characteristics. SST, they nave the accepted Victorian values and then they have the post-colonial values.

The Victorian reading would portray Quartz’s fiance as feminine, beautiful, saintly and mourns Kurt for a long time. The innocence her character displays would suggest her purity. She would have represented civilization. On the hand, Quartz’s mistress would be portrayed as masculine, savage and very careless of the fact that her loved one was leaving. His African mistress would have symbolized the savage unknown that was Africa. The post-colonial reading would show Quartz’s fiance as a foolish woman who was mourning a man she barely knew.

Her innocence would suggest owe naive she really was and her faith was based upon a lie. His mistress would be depicted as erotic who lives independently after Quartz’s passing. She would have represented the fact that Africa did not need Britain’s ‘salvation’ which was very contrary to the British belief. Concord’s view of African culture as “other” was based on the fact that British imperialism was very present during the nineteenth century. Someone from Africa would probably not appreciate Concord’s portrayal of Africa as being “other” or insignificant especially when compared to Britain.

Concord’s Hearts of Darkness is ere representative of what was significant to those in the nineteenth century including colonialism and imperialism. It was essentially a good story for the transition from the nineteenth to the twentieth centuries based on the fact that certain topics that were once unheard of in the nineteenth century may be considered in the twentieth century.