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Colonization In Heart Of Darkness Novel History Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

Colonization in heart of darkness novel. Modernism is an all round label that covers a wide range of cultural movements. It is a practice, thought or modern culture that describes the series of associated cultural movements and the set of cultural tendencies which arise from the wide-scale changes to the Western society in the early 20th and the late 19th centuries. Modernism also encompasses the activities of those who were aware of the traditional forms of art, literature, social organization; architecture and religious faith were gradually becoming outdated in the new political, social and economic conditions of the emerging industrialized world. Earlier it was seen as the revolt against the good values of realism. Modernism does not accept the certainty of Enlightment thinking or the existence of an all-powerful creator who is compassionate (Wright 19).

Not all modernists or the modernist movements nullified religion or the aspects of Enlightment thoughts, but rather modernism can be argued as a questioning of the ways of the past age. A very strong trait of modernism is the self-consciousness and this severally led to form experiments and work that seeks attention to the materials and processes being used. Modernity is qualitative and not in the chronological category because it cannot be reduced to an abstract form. It should turn its back to a conventional surface coherence with equal necessity, a harmonious appearance and the order corroborated by replication. These oppositions are permanent to modernism as the range of cultural sense of long ago as very different from the modern age. The recognition that the world is increasingly becoming very complicated and the old age ‘final authorities’ like the government, science, God and reason, were exposed to an intensive critical scrutiny.

Recent interpretations of modernism are different and one of the most extreme forms of modernism was known as Surrealism. Most commentators view modernism as a trend of thought in the social progress that causes the human beings power to improve, be more creative and reshape their own environment using the help of a practical experimentation, technology or scientific knowledge. From this idea, modernism has encouraged the re-assessment of the aspect of existence for example from commerce to philosophy with the aim of finding out that which was holding back progress and instead putting up new strategies of achieving the same end. Other commentators also view modernism as a way of aesthetic introspection which availed the consideration of some reactions in the use of technology in the First World War.

Colonization occurs when one or more type of species populates or inhabits an area. In the 19th century however, biographers changed the term to explain birds’ activities, plant species and bacteria. Human colonization is a very narrow category compared to the related idea of colonialism. This is because colonization addresses to settler colonies, plantations and trading posts but colonialism relates with all that and also the ruling of the upcoming territories existing peoples. Colonialism usually refers to the past period from late 15th century to the 20th century when the European nation states formed colonies on other countries and it is in this period that justifications were made about colonialism factors like profits to be made, expansion of power by the metropole, government, social structure and the economics. There are two types of colonialism namely the settler colonialism and the exploitation colonialism. The settler colonialism involves a big number of colonists who are mainly looking for a fertile land to farm whereas exploitation colonialism involves fewer colonists who are mainly interested in getting the resources and exporting them to the metropole. The latter includes trading posts but applies more to larger colonies where the colonists give much to the administration and even own most of the land and capital but still rely on the indigenous people for labor. The above examples overlap because the people are moved to the colony and goods exported to metropole. A plantation colony is usually considered to fit the exploitation colony but in this case there might be other immigrants in the colony who are slaves in that case to grow a cash crop for sale.

In other cases, settler colonialism took place in pre-populated areas and it all resulted in either a racially divided population or a culturally mixed population. Modern colonialism began with the Age of Discovery whereby the Egyptians, the Romans and the Greeks built colonies in antiquity. Marxist viewed colonialism as capitalism that enforces exploitation and social change. He argued that it is closely related to uneven development because he worked within the global capitalist system. He thought of colonization as socio-psychological disorientation, an instrument of destruction, neocolonial dependency and massive poverty. Colonies are eventually made into various modes of production and that the search for new investment opportunities and raw materials is a result for the inter-capitalist rivalry in capital accumulation. It is also the main reason for imperialism as it was differentiated from the monopoly capitalism through colonization. A colony is a section of an empire and therefore imperialism is closely related to colonialism. Imperialism is just a concept whereas colonization is the practice of the concept.

In Joseph Conrad’s novel heart of Darkness, he narrates how Marlowe is surrounded and horrified by the inefficiencies and the accouterments of colonialism as he is going up the river and his struggle is more so with the perception of colonialism. This struggle greatly explains the fascination of the Heart of Darkness and many other novels that Conrad wrote about postmodern thinkers and the post colonial period. Heart of Darkness has almost become the favorite in postmodern intellectual community. Kurtz, a white trader who surrounded his home with shrunken heads had the barbarity that Conrad as being considered as the metaphor for a man’s ability for evil, too unpleasant to be anything else but fiction. Social and economic changes transformed Congo into a model colony. Hospitals were built, primary schools as well as the high schools and most Congolese had access to these developments. Medics and doctors achieved big victories against trypanosomiasis which is a sleeping disease that was popular at the time. The administration on the other hand carried on with the economics reforms of constructing mines, plantations, industrial areas, roads, ports and railways. The Belgian administration is categorized as a paternalistic colonialism as the educational system was governed buy the Catholic Church. Hochschild described Leopold as a very greedy man who was obsessed with the idea of owning a colony but was hiding his intentions under the said philanthropic purposes. With a very complicated political scheme, he uses propaganda and corruption to win the help of a great explorer, Henry Morton Stanley and at the same time the public opinion of powerful states.

Settler colonialism and exploitation colonialism are the two types of colonialism .Number of colonies who were in such of fertile lands for cultivation made up the settler while the few colonists who had great interests to exploit resources and take back to their homeland are the exploitative settlers. These settlers offered administration and owned land and relied on the local population for lab our.

Exploitation colonialism ends in the long run but settler colonialism lasts for decades because the settlers and their families come to settle forever because they are family units involved in business activities. For example in Africa and specifically Kenya, the Leakey family settled and engaged in agricultural activities until present but the settlers stay in the country is immortal. Heart of darkness novel depicts the exploitative kind of colonialism because Marlow and the crew finally returned to the native country Belgium. Ivory was obtained from the local people and the Belgians slaughtered elephants to obtain ivory.

The Africans are starved and work in white settlers farms. Their wives belong to the white man and children are enslaved to work for him .Torture and cruelty is the order of the day unlike settler colonialism which tries to improve the infrastructure of the native population and make it civilized. Exploitative colonialism has many negative effects to the colonized and in most cases the natural resources like land, gold and gemstones are over utilized.

The theme of darkness and light is depicted through the activities carried out in the Congo republic. Light and darkness is used symbolically. Light and darkness represent good and evil, civilization, UN civilization, morality and immorality. Marlow and the crew are in total darkness as they sail down the Congo River to transport ivory and sometimes the sun shows some light as it sets down (Conrad 15).

The tropical Congo rain forest is full of darkness and fear as night draws near. The Europeans being civilized bring darkness instead of light to the Africans. Kurtz is an ivory trader and exploits elephants in such for ivory to satisfy his greedy desire. Marlow on the other hand is a philosophy but a womanizer whose behavior does not represent him. He treats the African women badly by using her as a sex slaves. Kurtz believes every opportunity should be made for the white man (Conrad 19). Marlow’s assignment to return Kurtz back to Europe becomes darkness for he loses the way to follow and he initially considered the act easy therefore we see light turning into darkness.

The imperial rule believed civilized brings harsh leadership to the uncivilized instead of civilizing them. White man loots from the poor and makes him poorer. Light is turned into darkness when in the later parts of the story Kurtz is unable to stop his greedy behavior and all the crew members like him are power mongers (Conrad 45).

Attacks by the natives scared the crews and at one time one of the crews was shot dead making them to live in horror and darkness. Kurtz used to side with the natives in such for ivory and acted as a betrayer to the entire crew therefore bringing darkness instead of light to the crew. Marlow is always dissatisfied by Kurtz behavior of seeking fame.

He believes that Kurtz brought darkness to the crew. After the death of Kurtz Marlow’s goal of returning him back fades away and brings darkness to Kurtz’s fiancée (Conrad 76).

Colonization in the novel heart of darkness had both positive and negative effects. The white man brings about changes in the use language and the black Africans adopt the language and the way of live. Dressing codes changed among the African man due to imitations from the white man. Kurtz united with the natives and benefited more than them in the ivory business.

Women were sexually abused by people like Marlow and were affected psychologically. Some women were refused by their own husbands after giving birth to white kids. Ivory business led to the exploitation of different species of Elephants and natural habitants destroyed.

Gold was mined by the colonies and earned money which could have belonged to the Africans (Conrad 140). Colonization made the colonizers homeless people because for a person like Marlow, his house was in the steam ship and the home was the ocean. Fiancées were lonely for many days and their husbands sometimes never returned, for example Kurtz became sick and died in Congo republic.

Africans lived in fear of the white man and had to flee their homes or find ways to attack him. Marlow says even mountains were scared. People were killed and taken captive to work for the white man. Kurtz established himself among the blacks and provided he with ivory .Colonizers suffered so much in the jungle because of rainfalls in the forests, it was cold, foggy, cloudy and scaring but they had to obey the rules of colonial masters. Marlow argues that anyone with a flat nose slept hungry, poor, skinny and no opportunity in the land but fear (Conrad 156).

From the book, the difference between a colonizer and the colonized is clearly illustrated by the sentiments that are reflected in the story. The colonizers are the European individuals who control black people in Africa. The Africans in this case are the colonized because they are controlled by the whites. The whites believe that they are more superior than the blacks hence can colonize them.

During the Victorian era, Africa was termed as a dark continent with negative image attributed to the black people living in the continent by the white people. Henry Morton was one of the likely influences of the Kurtz. Livingstone’s fame as an explorer in the African continent especially the Congo was highly compromised because of his violence against the porters while he was in Africa. Despite of an indication by the records that this was not true, Livingstone was later honored with knighthood (Conrad 76).

The theme of darkness has been used in the novel to relate it with the Africans. The African continent is called a dark continent because black people live in the same continent. In the book, the narration by Marlow takes place in Thames tidal estuary. Earlier in the novel, Marlow remembers how London, one of the biggest and also wealthiest cities in the world was treated as a dark place during the Roman reign (Conrad 120).

The idea that the Romans colonized the Britons is similar to that of Belgians colonizing the Africans. Darkness as a theme that lurks beneath the surface even in a place where people are civilized seems prominent and is explored in Kurtz’s character through using Marlow’s passive understanding of the African way of life. Kurtz symbolizes all forms of an urge to be just like a human being. His scripts according to Marlow are an exotic ruled by a benevolence of august nature that appealed to each and every altruistic sentiment. Marlow’s predisposition for benevolence is clearly illustrated by the statement that said “we whites must necessarily appear to them (savages) in the nature of superior beings…by a simple exercise of our wish we can impart authority for good practically unbounded,” (Conrad 34).

Also the central station manager quotes that every station must be like a beacon on its way to better things that include the centre of trade for improving instructing among other things. Kurtz’s scientific report is full of conversation and bringing up of the slaves or the colonized and would have subscribed to the proposition that even pigs may be educated.

From this text we can see that black people are treated as lesser people and called the savages. This means that the Whites believe that they are more superior to their black counterparts from Africa. The continent itself is regarded as dark and the people who live in it are lesser beings compared to those who live in Europe. By saying that pigs can be educated in his scientific report, Kurtz is trying to tell the readers that if Africans can be educated, then it is possible that pigs will also be educated. This clearly shows that the whites highly undermined the blacks and they treat them with as little respect as possible.

Africans were treated as slaves and in the process led to the whites believing that they are more superior and civilized than the black people. The black people were undermined so much and given the least priority in all the important things that were perceived to be important.

Every black person during the colonial times was seen as a lesser human being and that he or she should not participate in any form of decision making. All kinds of decisions were left for white people to decide whether it affected the black people or not. The white people made decisions on behalf of Africans. This is clear indication that Africans were seen as inferior and they should be given no authority in any from of leadership. Segregation was also the order of the day during the colonial period. All the black people were segregated and given no chance to express their ideas. The white people lived in good houses and had privileges over the blacks.

Colonization is a term that is not limited to blacks and whites. Even during the Roman Empire, the Britons themselves were colonized by the whites. This shows that colonizing a person or a group of people means that they are being taken advantage of by those who are colonizing them. It is not surprising that the Britons were denied basic amenities by the Romans during their colonial era. The colonization of Africans by the Belgians took a different perspective because the Africans were colonized on the basis of their skin color and ignorance. On the other hand, the Romans colonized the Britons not because they were black but because they were superior in terms of war tactics. The Britons had no skills in fighting and that is why the Romans managed to colonized them.

Even today, some people are still colonized in different ways. It can be financial colonization, academic colonization or even race colonization. Financial colonization means that an individual who has money can take advantage of a poor person who has less financial resources. Academic colonization means that an intelligent person can manipulate or take advantage of a person who is ignorant. Colonizing a person of another race means that some people who perceive to be minority. Even today blacks can colonize white in a society where the whites are the minority group.

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