Themes and Important Topics: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad


Theme of Imperialism in Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad:



The Europeans' expeditions and enlargement of their empires led to colonization of the weaker and vaster nations. Once under the influence of the advanced Europeans, the natives of these backward lands began suffering in the clutches of imperialism which undoubtedly brought some mechanization and industry to the occupied areas but it also treated real owners of the land as mere "brutes" and "savages". They were yoked and used like animals as Marlow witnesses them "moving like ants". The author shows the cruel practices used for extraction of valuable raw materials.

Theme of Weakness in Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad:



"Might is right" is supposedly law of the jungle but what about the might of a nation which imposes it on another to assert its right? When the British, French and Japanese empires began advancing, they sought different reasons and excuses to reach the wealth of the lesser advanced nations. The novelist says their "strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of others". The power of machine gun and gun powder showed its magic. With the lethal weapons their soldiers which were "like needle in a bundle of hay" had full control over the vast areas of Congo.

Theme of Greed in Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad



It is very obvious that the Europeans had gone to Congo for the sake of "ivory". They were "hunters for gold or pursuers of fame, they all had gone out on that stream, bearing the sword, and often the torch, messengers of the might within the land, bearers of a spark from the sacred fire". Ivory" is symbolic of the greed of Europeans; they have conquered Africa for "looting and plundering". The Swede tells Marlow in an open and frank manner that he is there in Congo just "to make money, of course".

Racism Theme Heart of Darkness



The novelist seems right in his observation that besides other reason, there was racist element in maltreatment of the blacks. Marlow notices how everybody disliked them. They "hate them to the death". The observation of Marlow is justified that the "conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much". Probably, this is the racist element which added to the elements of greed and imperialism and brought an unbearable existence for the blacks.





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