Imperialism in Heart of Darkness

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Before being published in the present form of the novel, Heart of Darkness was printed in a serial form in 1899 and then part of a volume entitled Youth: A Narrative and Two Other Stories in 1902. Based on Conrad’s own personal experiences after the African country of the Congo and the famous Congo River flowing through this country the story assumed the present novel. It was in this year 1890 that Conrad had performed his sailing trip upon the river Congo as a captain or skipper of a Belgian steamship. During his trips, Conrad studied at first hand the conditions which prevailed in the Congo and formed his own impressions of the kind of life which the savages were leading under the imperialist Belgian rule. Conrad also observed the attitude of white traders and their manner of treating the native savages. His reaction to the treatment was unpleasant and, in fact, he was greatly dismayed and even shocked at what he observed. We find in his novel, Heart of Darkness, more or less a record of all this which experienced during his own travels through the Congo and the Dark Continent. The title of the novel Heart of darkness signifies simply the interior of the dark country known as the Congo. The theme of Heart of Darkness is the conditions prevailing in the Congo under the imperialist rule of the Belgian King, Leopold II. These conditions include the impact of white traders and explorers on the life of the African savages, and the influence of the native way of life on the white man, with special reference to one man who is given the name of Kurtz. In fact, Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness has several themes, one of which is the theme of imperialist exploration of a backward country. In this essay I’ll show imperialism intervened with his life and Conrad as a victim of imperialism; the experiences of Conrad in the dark country of the Congo where the white man had become unsuccessful in performing civilizing function. I will end my essay discussing the white man’s...
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