Heart of Destruction

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Marlow, at the beginning of his narrative, states, “The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion . . . is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much. What redeems it is the idea only. An idea at the back of it; not a sentimental pretence but an idea, . . .—something you can set up, and bow down before, and offer a sacrifice to . . . ( 39)” [italics added] What is the “sentimental pretence” that Marlow alludes to dismissively? What is the “idea” that can redeem “the conquest,” according to Marlow? Can anything ultimately “redeem” conquest and colonialism? Give reasons for your answer based on Heart of Darkness?

“Heart of Destruction”

Within every human there exists a degree of darkness that is concealed unless presented with the correct environment to surface. Darkness being defined as potential for savagery within a human. If not checked by reason, this vile darkness could emerge to ultimately destroy the person or present them with an opportunity to achieve personal growth and self-knowledge. In the Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad explores colonization as a primary example of the weakness one possesses in the face of greed. Through different transformations that occur within characters, Conrad demonstrates the power of corruption of an individual rooted in the foundations of European Colonialism. Although there was a hint of good behind the idea of colonization, given the opportunity to explore this idea, the colonizers fell into a trap of buried instincts to find themselves endowed in darkness they first sought to eliminate. Through his main character, Marlow, Conrad uses setting, theme of darkness and diction to display colonization as a destructive force.

At the time this novella was written, the British Empire was at it’s peak, where Britain controlled colonies all over the planet. Due to the increasing population in Europe and a lack of resources, the reasons for...
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