This essay sample on Write An Essay On Colonialism And Imperialism provides all necessary basic information on this matter, including the most common “for and against” arguments. Below are the introduction, body and conclusion parts of this essay.
As was established in the previous section, Heart of Darkness exposes the exploitation of African nations by Europeans. Conrad points out the flaws of colonialism including that of the cruelty of the Europeans in the name of civilising the population. Through Marlow’s narration of these atrocities, Conrad is expressing his political criticism to colonialism. Conrad highlights the cruelty of colonialism from as soon as Marlow reaches the Coastal Station. Marlow comes across two consecutive events; the first was a line of black workers joined by and chain, and the second being the Grove of Death.
It was at the grove that Marlow realises how the natives are exploited. Marlow says ‘they were not enemies, they were not criminals… [they were] nothing but black shadows of disease and starvation. “3 This exploitation of the workers has clearly shaken Marlow. Yet, it is obvious that the Europeans do not care for the welfare of the black people, rather caring for their own gain as can be seen in Marlow’s statement describing the immaculate accountant “but in the great demoralisation of the land he kept up his appearance.
“4 It is plain to the reader here that amid the undermining of the civilisation of the natives, the Europeans are able to live in style. Ivory becomes an important metaphor in the novel. It becomes the source of much envy and many atrocities are executed to gain this unique material. Just like King Leopold’s ‘rubber-terror’ Conrad points out the how the natives are exploited. This is seen through the juxtaposition of the Company with Mr Kurtz. The Company’s atrocities are clear, as is the obsession with ivory “You would think they were praying to it.
Theme Of Imperialism In Heart Of Darkness
“5 Yet they seem to claim that their atrocities are actually for “science” and “progress”. This is clearly juxtaposed with Mr Kurtz, who also commits atrocities in order to gain ivory, but unlike the company, he openly acknowledges the atrocities he has performed and has awareness. This is emphasised by the words: “The horror! The horror! “6 Kurtz has realised sees the horror of imperialism and is condemning it. This juxtaposition heightens the awareness of the evil of imperialism. Thus we reach the next major theme that of the evil in man that plays a major role in the imperialism of Africa.
When deciphering the meaning of the Kurtz’s last words, Gary Adelman believes that the meaning of the “the horror is seen as a verdict on the essential depravity of man and his civilisation”7. It essentially that, while the ‘wilderness of Africa’ has brought forth the evil, the ‘wilderness’ is merely opportunity in the form of ivory and natives to exploit in order to gain the ivory. The true evil is already in man. This is his greed and inability to restrain himself. It can be seen that the darkness is not African, rather European.
Robert Burden states that “imperialism in Heart of Darkness ‘destroys indigenous cultures’ and in so doing destroys ‘the cultural integrity’ of Europe”8. Taking into account Conrad’s life, it is obvious that he would have a negative view of colonialism. His boyhood was full of hardships due to Russian imperialism of Poland, yet Conrad does a strange thing. He does not acknowledge the reality of imperialism. Through the fact that Marlow lies to the intended, “Conrad undermines the novel’s essential meaning.
“9 The reasons for this may be that he believes that for Europeans to learn that they are the true darkness may undermine their power, or more likely, he does not believe that all imperialism is bad. The late 19th century saw the flourishing Victorian Empire of England, and the pleasant descriptions of the Thames by the mysterious secondary narrator at the beginning of the text juxtaposed with Marlow’s comment that the Thames was once a place of darkness emphasises the successfulness of imperialism in England.
Conrad’s message in Heart of Darkness is that colonialism is only evil when it is not controlled and allowed to be run by ‘darkness’ or primitive emotions such as greed. Apocalypse Now The imperialist nature of the Vietnam War is obvious in the film ‘Apocalypse Now’. It both shows a darkness that drives the imperialism, and many of the atrocities undertaken in the name of democracy. Yet the main difference is that of context not that of themes. The main character, Willard is already accustomed to the life in the field, yet the atrocities he witnesses clearly disturb him.
Unlike Heart of Darkness, the imperialism of Vietnam by the American’s seems to be a moral gesture by the Americans to give freedom to the natives, yet some darkness has corrupted the Americans, as the innocents that they were suppose to protect are being slaughtered by the unprovoked killing of the Americans depicted by Coppola through the vivid images of the destruction of napalm. As with the novel, the darkness does not come from the Vietnamese, or the terrain, but from the American’s themselves.
Coppula shows this vividly with the battle scene where the American troops attack a town full of innocents, where every man who killed the enemy ‘gets a case of beer’. This is juxtaposed with the shots of the village where children are at school, unaware of the impending destruction. Also like Heart of Darkness, there is ignorance from the Americans about the true suffering of the natives. The American General, states “I love the smell of napalm in the morning… it smells like victory”.
Yet, it is that weapon that created enormous sufferings in the war. In the same line the general also states that “we didn’t find one stinking body”. It is obvious he is aware of the destructive capabilities of napalm, which further adds to the deterioration of the American moral position. Thus the American general sums up the core of value of darkness. Like the novel it is greed, but not greed for tangible items (i. e. ivory) but greed for victory. Yet, like the novel, they do not like to be seen as being the darkness.
They hide behind morals such as ‘democracy’, and thus the true darkness of American imperialism is seen through the juxtaposition of Colonel Kurtz, who has achieved victory by openly assassinating Vietnamese double agents. The US Army said “his ideas, methods, became unsound”, yet the irony is that they have sent Willard to assassinate Kurtz. This view of eliminating Colonel Kurtz is parallel to that of the Company wanting to eliminate Mr Kurtz in the novel. The atrocities of the Vietnam War are clearly defined and the reasons for imperialism are fuelled by the darkness of greed.
The fact that the Americans are the source of the darkness is highlighted differently in the film as it is “not framed with the civilised company of men”10 like Heart of Darkness but “it is framed by the flames of napalm”11. Thus the horrific visual techniques Coppola uses in showing the exploding napalm becomes in themselves moral statements. Coppola is emphasising the inevitability of the darkness and horror that Conrad believed was escapable, to highlighted by the lyrics of the film’s closing credits – ‘This is the end, my friend’.
Conclusion ‘Apocalypse Now’ and Heart of Darkness are texts that address the frightening themes of imperialism and darkness in man. The authors have gone to great lengths in depicting this horror through relevant techniques, and despite the obvious differences in context, these themes are still very similar. Both Conrad and Coppola have captured the essence of their messages in these gripping words – “The horror! The horror! ”