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Heart of Darkness


Heart of Darkness By Joseph Conrad Colonialism vs. Imperialism colonialism as practice and imperialism as the idea driving the practice Imperialism: first identified ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness
  • By Joseph Conrad

Colonialism vs. Imperialism
  • colonialism as practice and imperialism as the
    idea driving the practice
  • Imperialism first identified with ancient Rome.
    Used in the late 1800s with an expansionist
    connotation (Conrad mentions the Roman empire on
    pg. 67)

  • About the dominance of a strong nation over a
    weaker one
  • acquisition of the colonialist, by brute force,
    of extra markets, extra resources of raw material
    and manpower from the colonies
  • While committing atrocities against natives, the
    colonialist believes he is acting morally

Rationale for Colonialism
  • The colonized are savages in need of education
    and rehabilitation
  • The culture of the colonized is not up to the
    standard of the colonizer, and its the moral
    duty of the colonizer to do something about
    polishing it.
  • The colonized nation is unable to manage and run
    itself properly, and thus it needs the wisdom and
    expertise of the colonizer.
  • The colonized nation embraces a set of religious
    beliefs incongruent and incompatible with those
    of the colonizer, and consequently, it is Gods
    given duty of the colonizer to bring those stray
    people to the right path.
  • The colonized people pose dangerous threat to
    themselves and to the civilized world if left
    alone and thus it is in the interest of the
    civilized world to bring those people under

Effects of Colonialism
  • Oppression dehumanizes both oppressor and
  • Erosion of colonized culture
  • Rejection among the colonized of everything
  • Advanced economy of land colonized

Post Colonialism
  • expose to both the colonizer and ex-colonized the
    falsity or validity of their assumptions
  • no culture is better or worse than other culture
  • Alienation Colonialist is alienated in his own
    land, leading to trauma
  • Ambivalence toward authority victory of the
    settler leads to ambivalence

Conrads Life
  • Novel based on personal experience was a
    captain of a steam ship on the Belgian Congo
  • Part autobiographical, part imaginary
  • Sought to attack the criminality of inefficiency
    and pure selfishness of African colonialism
  • Marlow is perhaps Conrad himself

Structure and Style of Heart of Darkness
  • Framing narrative brings up the question of
  • Most of the tale is being told aloud
  • Conrad grips us with his storytelling skills, but
    at the same time he does not strive to teach a
  • Marlow has an ambiguous and uncertain moral
  • Marlow is cynical and never reveals meaning, he
    continues to ask questions and suggest mysteries.

Structure Continued
  • Russian Doll effect Kurtz is at the center of
    the story, Marlow, narrator, reader
  • Patterns of threes
  • Patterns of opposition dark/light, inside/outside

  • Light vs. Dark contributes to the ambiguous
    tone depicts the moral uncertainty of the world
    white is not necessarily good (ivory a symbol of
    greed), black not necessarily evil (suffering)
  • The River Congo is the passageway to Africa,
    but also is a source of struggle for Europeans
    Thames is a symbol for civilization

  • The Absurdity of Evil The world has ambiguous
  • The Hypocrisy of Colonialism Africans were
    meant to be helped instead they were oppressed.
  • Colonialism as a Source of Madness madness
    results from a separation from ones normal
    social context
  • ? How does Conrad portray these themes?

Conrads Ambiguous Lessons
  • We must know evil our own capacities for evil-
    before we can be capable of any good
  • We must always atone for any allegiance with the
    powers of darkness
  • As men, we are morally isolated from one another
  • Life is profoundly meaningless Kurtzs death is
    as meaningless as life

Freudian Reading
  • Dreams are a clue to the inner workings of the
  • Marlows journey is like a dream
  • Theory of the Id we are all brutes and savages
    on this level
  • Exploration of the dark recesses of the human
  • Kurtz as merely a voice the voice of Marlows
    deepest psychological self?

Truth of Experience vs. Clarity of Ideas
  • Truths of the psyche and human soul are messy,
    vague, irrational, dark
  • Striving towards a recreation of our own dark
  • Pg. 86 He was just a word for me. I did not
    see the man in the name any more than you do. Do
    you see him? Do you see the story? Do you see
    anything? It seems to me I am trying to tell you
    a dream
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