Literature Papers

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Analysis of the Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

The aim of this paper is to analyze Joseph Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness. The story addresses the issue of colonialism, which had adverse effects on the lives of millions of people living in colonized territories. The social structure of colonized nations was disrupted as colonialists adopted new systems of administration. In this story, Conrad explains the effects of colonialism on the lives of the Africans through the experiences of Marlow whose experiences are used to shed light on experiences of colonialism in the region.

In the first place, Conrad addresses the matter of colonialism using characters to explain how it occurred in Congo, the country provides setting for the novella. The story is set near a river, and Marlow is the only character who is unable to identify with any social class in the local community. Going by real-life experiences, one realizes that this aspect of the story is applicable in many societies. The same way Marlow does not fit into any social class in the community is the same way many people fail to fit into socially constructed categories. However, this does not mean that their voice should not be heard. Moreover, moreover, the way Conrad describes the effects of colonialism on the Congo society reflects the plight of other societies that encountered similar experiences. The book uses the concepts of “white” and “black” to describe colonialists and Africans respectively. The colonialists gained supreme power over the subjects by drafting laws and taking charge of all administration matters. On the other hand, Africans had no say in matters that affected them directly, and this is why they suffered greatly.

            Furthermore, the story shows how important political freedom is in all societies. Citizens should be given powers to appoint their leaders who should be charged with the responsibility of protecting the citizens’ interests. Moreover, people always rely on their leaders to speak their minds on various social problems such as mistreatment and discrimination. In this novella, Conrad elicits tension by describing the lives of some of the individuals in the countries that were colonized. Denial of dignity is cited as a major cause of the tension, for instance, through the forms of punishment that colonialists adopted. By describing the effects of colonialism on Congo residents during the colonial era, Conrad’s story paints a mental image of what it is like to experience colonial domination. The story is applicable today as it discourages segregation and colonialism. This usefulness of the story is demonstrated by the way Conrad establishes a relationship with his audience by describing his experiences in Congo.

            Based on this textual analysis, it emerges that Conrad’s story plays an important role in displaying the adverse effects of colonialism in the countries where it was experienced. The resulting impression is that colonialists profited from the experience while their subjects suffered massive injustices. The story addresses contemporary societies regarding the dehumanizing aspects of colonialism and why a recurrence of the phenomenon should be prevented. The author’s elaboration of racism using black and white characters and depiction of their different roles in the world is somewhat symbolic of the need to uncover the truth about the problem of racial discrimination. This theme is relevant today because racism is still evident in many societies only that it is being manifested in new ways.

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