The Effects Of Colonization In Joseph Conrad's Heart Of Darkness

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During the 1890’s and early 1900’s, the world looked to be adapting to new discoveries and innovations. The concept of colonization was flourishing, and countries such as Belgium, France, and Great Britain were using their colonies in Africa to better their own country. The resources found in the colonies helped to produced many of the goods that they would either use or sell to other countries. As seen in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, however, the costs of colonization are typically much more that the benefits. The turn of the century marked a change in the way that people thought and acted, and Conrad attempted to show this change in his novel. In Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, the late 1890s’ social, historical, and cultural values …show more content…
The plot of Heart of Darkness is about a man who goes to the Congo on a French steamer, to work with a corporation, deemed “The Company”. The Congo was already occupied by the Company, and the Company’s goal was to collect ivory from the colony. Modern society condemns the concept of taking over other land for the purpose of improving their own country, but during this time, colonization was the norm for industrialized countries. Charles Marlow, the main character of the story, understands the confusion and absurdity of the concept, as he states early in the novel, “The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses that ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much” (Conrad 7). Very few people during the turn of the century actually looked at colonization in its entirety, including the flaws and disadvantages. Most just saw a steady flow of resources coming into the country, and were perfectly fine with the “free” materials, even if it was obtained through foul or inhumane methods. As Marlow explores the world outside of Europe, he also sees the differences between the powerful white man and the “savage brutes” that are the African people. …show more content…
In the past, the Congo Free State was controlled by Belgium, as was a number of other countries in Africa. The fact that he “left in a French steamer,” shows the historical accuracy of the novel, using countries that actual had control over the Congo (Conrad 13). The story also adopts the same attitude towards women that would be expected from the time period, prior to women having equal rights written into the laws of these countries. Women are rarely mentioned in the story, and when mentioned, do not seem to be extremely important to the plot. However, reading into the story deeply shows the impact that the women have in being symbols of the changing dynamics of women’s rights. The first woman mentioned in the story, Marlow’s aunt, is the one that gets Marlow his job to start the entire adventure. Marlow takes this act of work as a shock to himself, saying “Then – would you believe it? – I tried the women. I, Charlie Marlow, set the women to work – to get a job. Heavens!” (9). Marlow has a staunch belief that women and men are completely different, with men being the logical thinkers and women being the fanciful imaginers. With the mention of the Intended, Kurtz’s fiancée, Marlow begins to mention his belief to protect women from the real world, talking about how “They – the women, I mean – are out of it – should be out of

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