Heart of Darkness

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A Publication of TRANS Asian Research Journals

AJMR
Asian Journal of Multi di mensional Research Vol.1 Issue 5, October 2012, ISSN 2278-4853

HEART OF DARKNESS: JOSEPH CONRAD’S ANTI-IMPERIALISTIC PERSPECTIVE THROUGH RACISM, PESSIMISM AND IMPRESSIONISM LAKMINIRADEESHANIKABASNAYAKE* *Lecturer in English, Department of English Language Teaching, Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka, Belihuloya, Sri Lanka. ABSTRACT Imperialism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is one of the chief focal aspects of critical controversy and debate in the fields of literary theory and literary criticism. The aim of the study is to examine the ideological background to viewing Conrad as anti-imperialist in ‘Heart of Darkness’, while dealing also with the presentation of imperialism and racism. The study reveals that Conrad was consciously anti-imperialist but he unconsciously or carelessly employed racist terminology. The novel is a moving record of White imperialism in the Belgian Congo and of the intense suffering of the Africans. It conveys Conrad’s nihilistic impression of the Whites who exercised unpardonable authority over natives. As Conrad sets up Africa as a foil to Europe and a place of negation and cannibalism, many contemporary critics viewed the text as a racist work. But in writing about the diabolical practice of White imperialism in Africa, can Conrad be seen as an extremist in terms of racism? Does he support the dehumanization of natives which is practiced by the Whites in the name of a civilizing role? The study scrupulously examines these controversial elements in the text and concludes that Conrad’s impressionistic narrative technique, incorporating a pessimistic viewpoint, along with his disillusioned emotions over what seems to be White cannibalism in the Congo, and the excessively grim nature of the novel Heart of Darkness, all serve Conrad’s antiimperialistic perspective effectively. Conrad’s anti-imperialistic ideology employed in Heart of Darkness provides then a tremendous attack on inhuman, brutalized White imperialism. The absence of joys, success and optimism that strengthen the impression of extreme negation throughout the novel is evidence of Conrad’s deeply anti-imperialistic perspective. KEYWORDS: Heart of Darkness, imperialism, racism, pessimism. ____________________________________________________________________________

TRANS Asian Research Journals http://www.tarj.in

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A Publication of TRANS Asian Research Journals

AJMR
Asian Journal of Multi di mensional Research Vol.1 Issue 5, October 2012, ISSN 2278-4853

INTRODUCTION BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY As the British Empire became the great empire upon which the sun never set, the contemporary issues of the far flung lands under Queen Victoria‟s dominion inspired writers and poets create tales of adventure in the name of Crown and country. These forms of fiction and poetry readily owned a unique genre of Scientific Romance Literature with its own archetypes and stereotypes. This was Imperialist Adventure. From the perspective of Imperialist Adventure, the novelist Joseph Conrad can be considered as a world recognized writer drawing the attention of the readers into controversial aspects of imperialism that took place in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Europe. This period in the study of imperialism marks a crucial development in Conrad‟s experience and outlook. He started to see colonialism closer up. With this sentiment, his works trace the distinctive moment of this imperialist situation from the loosely administered, ad hoc arrangement in Malaya, to the intensified scramble for land in Africa, to the financial, dependencies established in South America. Profound studies of Conrad‟s fiction, Heart of Darkness could be highly deemed for its complexity, contradictory notions being a tale full of paradoxes. It is a well-known fact in the Imperialist Adventure genre of literature that Conrad‟s Heart of Darkness is strongly attacked as a...
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