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Civilizing Europe: Joseph Conrad's Exposure of Imperialism Through Criticism and Education

  • Date Submitted: 08/31/2012 04:24 PM
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Civilizing Europe: Joseph Conrad's Exposure of Imperialism Through Criticism and Education

An essay arguing that Joseph Conrad is more critical of Whites than Blacks in Heart of Darkness

  To the vast majority of Europeans of the 19th century, colonization was a noble cause that brought civilization, Christianity and culture to underdeveloped civilizations. Many Europeans believed that they were welcomed abroad and were improving societies in the name of God. Far ahead of his time, Joseph Conrad saw the hypocrisy with this thinking. In his novella Heart of Darkness Conrad is much more critical of the European characters than the native African characters. Conrad shows this in four different ways. First, he shows he is more critical of the Europeans than the Africans by negatively portraying the European Pilgrims and praising the African Cannibals. Secondly, Conrad attaches many negative traits to the European women of the novel while glorifying the African woman he portrays in the novel. Thirdly, the relationship between Africans and Europeans shows Conrad is more critical of Europeans than Africans. Finally, by portraying the Europeans as aggressors and the Africans as victims, Conrad shows he is more critical of Europeans than Africans.

  The first reason why Conrad is more critical of Europeans than Africans in his novella is because of how Conrad negatively portrays the European Pilgrims and praises the African Cannibals by depicting the Pilgrims as evil, ruthless and cruel aggressors who terrorize the Cannibals and Africans. An example of this is when Marlow, the Pilgrims and the Cannibals are ambushed by a group of Africans who attack them possibly on Kurtz's behalf or because they want to protect Kurtz. Using their superior weaponry, the Pilgrims inflict great casualties on the Africans, which lead one Pilgrim to say “ Say! We must have made a glorious slaughter of them in the bush. Eh?” (87). This is ironic because the Europeans of Marlow’s time...

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