Post Colonial Analysis of Heart of Darkness-Joseph Conrad

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Post Colonial Analysis of Heart of Darkness-Joseph Conrad

By | November 2011
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Using the Tools of Allegory, Joseph Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness' can be read from a Postcolonial perspective. As a 21st Century Responder; the structure of the Novella , a story presented within another story, allows one to see the way colonisation and imperialism effected all who were involved.

Conrad uses symbolism frequently throughout the book; some examples of this can be the use of references to the Romans, Buddha and the Thames.

The reference to the Romans could be read using the allegorical tool of foreshadowing as well as using symbolism. The Roman Empire was, at one point, the most powerful civilisation on earth. In the end, the super power which was the Roman Empire fell through the disintegration of political, military, economic and social institution-a societal collapse. As a 21st Century responder, it can be seen that the British Empire is not as powerful as it once was, it too, like the Roman Empire spread and declined. Conrad seemed to be foreshadowing the enterprise which was colonisation, referring to the mistakes of the Roman Empire and linking them to the same actions by the British, "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce." Karl Marx.

In the first section of the Novella, Marlow is described as a Buddha: "He had sunken cheeks, a yellow complexion, an ascetic aspect[1], and, with his arms dropped, the palms of hands outwards, resembled an idol." "We felt meditative …"

[1] The definition of Ascetic is "Characterized by or suggesting the practice of severe self-discipline and abstention from all forms of indulgence, typically for religious reasons."

Buddha is seen to provide teaching and enlightenment, he is the "Awakened One" or the "Enlightened One". By using this symbolism at the start of the Novella, Marlow is described as the person who will teach and enlighten through the retelling of his experience. Marlow seems to be a typical European but still doesn't seem to belong to a distinct class. In this way, he...