Heart of Darkness Imperialism, Hegemony, and Othering
Story of Idea I keep in mind when I first read Heart of Darkness. I was a sophomore in high school when I had actually been needed to read it. I remember when I got it. I believed to myself that it may be a cool book. I check out the first 5 pages and wanted to throw it the window. It was puzzling, aggravating and a little strange. Eventually I did read it. The more I read the more it made sense. When I completed it, I was still a little baffled, however I understood it better. I would not say that the precise word “imperialism” concerned my mind when I thought of Heart of Darkness.
Granted at that time I did not truly understand the word imperialism. I did know that I was repulsed by what the Europeans were truly carrying out in the Congo. I just did not associate it with the real word of imperialism. I just knew what was going on was inhumane. Imperialism in Heart of Darkness was rather intense. There were often times when I questioned the primary character’s, (Marlow’s), principles. At one point in the book, he sees the African servants in the Congo and remarks rather distastefully on them. He comments about an African kid who he explains has having” sunken eyes … normous and uninhabited” Marlow says, “The male appeared young– practically a boy– but you know with them it’s difficult to inform.” He then further describes 2 Africans sitting at a tree. “Near the very same tree two more packages of severe angles sat with their legs prepared …” (Conrad 156). Marlow then sees aghast, as one of the Africans gets up and crawls to the river to get a drink. As the African does this marrow describes him as” among these creatures”( 157 ). This shows examples of how maltreated the Africans were. It shows the real repercussions of imperialism.
The Africans were underfed, overworked, given little care and medical attention requirement. As Marlow sees them, he does not see them as poor unfortunate souls. He sees them as creatures, inhuman, unearthly. Throughout the unique, Marlow never ever when gives the Africans human characteristics or special qualities.? This quote showed me how bad imperialism can be. How could the Europeans do this? How could they not see that the Africans were human too? Everything comes down to one word. Reality. How do you understand that your belief is right which your foe’s belief is wrong?
It is the same thing with imperialism. Who gave the Europeans the right to enter into Africa and tell the Africans that they were uncivilized and incorrect in their beliefs? Possibly the Africans believed they were already civilized in their own way. Why did the Europeans get to state that being civilized is the right method and the Africans were “doing it all wrong’? These questions could also be requested the book, Things Fall Apart. What gave the Europeans the right to state that the Igbos faith and spirituality was incorrect? There is no proper response. The Europeans had a viewpoint.
Viewpoints can not be right, nor can they be wrong. It was their viewpoint that the Africans needed to be civilized and were inhuman. In addition, if the Europeans were “civilizing” these Africans, why were they made slaves? It comes back to the fact. How do you know your right? The only rational answer to this question would be that you do not know. There is not a right or wrong to opinions. Therefore, there is not a right or wrong to imperialism, because the majority of it opinionated However, even though there is no right or incorrect idea about imperialism, terrible things can come from imperialism.
An example would be greed. When many people hear greed they immediately think of money. On the other hand, in Heart of Darkness this is true however not constantly. A number of the business’s guys are in pursuit of wealth, but they are likewise power starving. The males, especially Kurtz, are in such desire of power they would do anything. Their values has actually been ruined by greed. The business is so greedy, that to pay the cannibals, they give them wire as payment for food. The pilgrims would not have needed to do that if they had actually not tossed the cannibals’ food overboard.
The pilgrims anticipated them to purchase their food at close-by villages, however there were none or they were hostile, or the supervisor would not stop. “Besides that, they had actually given them [Africans] each week three pieces of brass wire, each about nine inches long …” (178 ). Marlow then discusses how worthless it was; unless they planned to actually eat the wire or flex it into fishhooks, they would have no food. He later considers why, the cannibals, do not attack. After all, they threw the hippo meat overboard because of greed and selfishness. Undoubtedly, the cannibals were in some methods more civil than the pilgrims.
They could have eliminated the pilgrims anytime they wanted. Nevertheless, they appeared to have a secret humanity in them. Possibly it was since they were not corrupted by greed or power. This states a lot about the Europeans. Through out the unique, the European’s mindset constantly reminds us that if there is something for them to gain from, then they do not care who they stomp on to get to it. Another example for imperialism is “Shooting an Elephant”, however there is likewise proof that there is othering and hegemony. However, the story mainly fixates hegemony.
In “Shooting an Elephant”, the storyteller was pressed to shoot the elephant in order to be accepted by the natives. Orwell did not want to shoot the elephant but felt pressured to in order to maintain his rank of power and respect. Orwell winds up shooting the elephant since he does not wish to lose even more respect and look idiotic. If he had not killed the elephant, but merely walked away, he would have been laughed at. Had he approached the animal and it was still upset, he could have been eliminated. He just did not have a win- win circumstance. So he selected what he thought was best for him.
Among the more well-known lines in “Shooting an Elephant” is, “When the white guy turns tyrant it is his own freedom that he ruins.” What I viewed from this quote was when a white guy becomes tyrant he damages his own free choice. Orwell will constantly be doing what he thinks the Burmans desire. He will live as a fake. When he put himself in a hierarchy over the Burmans and restricted their liberty, he ruined his own while doing so. Orwell’s free will, on the other hand, remained in no chance ruined. Orwell might have decided to do the opposite to what the Burmans wanted.
When he was confronted with the choice of whether or not to shoot the elephant, he could have chosen the latter. In fact, that is precisely what he wished to do: “I did not want to shoot the elephant.” His option, in itself, to listen to Burmans was an act of free choice. He might have simply as easily selected to not shoot. Instead, he chose to shoot. He was entirely at the mercy of his own free choice. Therefore, actually he never ruined his free will. He always had it. When God created humanity he offered us the present of freewill, and free will of choice can never be damaged.
The last example I have about imperialism is “White Guy’s Concern” The poem is viewed as a Eurocentric world, in which non-European cultures are seen as childish and demonic. The Europeans felt a need to improve the remainder of the world and make other cultures civil and less “demonic”. In the poem is states to “Use up the White Man’s problem——–“. It is a condescending view of the non-European culture and customs. But who made it the white man’s/ European’s problem? Why should the Europeans care? If it is due to the fact that of religious beliefs and missionaries, then that is a factor. However, not every person who took on the “problem” had religious beliefs in mind.
It is as if they saw the world through increased colored glasses, other than when whatever they saw that did not quite agree with them, they sought out to evaluate and alter. The point of the poem is that it argues that the Europeans had the right and duty to rule over and try to enhance “lesser” cultures by converting them to Western methods. As a sophomore, I started to understand how the world must have looked and thought back when Heart of Darkness and was written. Towards the end of the system of imperialism, I began to value the light that Heart of Darkness brought me.
I saw the reality in the book that was filled with shadows. I saw the heart of greed in men, and the manner in which other people were maltreated and how opinions can do damage. Though I found numerous unfavorable aspects of imperialism, I also discovered some favorable things. Imperialism might bring some cultures up to date with technology. It could bring brand-new appreciation for the non- Western cultures, such as its bringing music, faith, and food to other cultures. Imperialism can do favorable things, however it can just as quickly do unfavorable things.