Heart of Darkness Response Assignment
Uploaded by Canadian Bacon on May 17, 2001
“They were dying slowly-it was clear. They were not enemies, they were not criminals, they were nothing earthly now, nothing but black shadows of disease and starvation, lying confused in the greenish gloom”. (page 14 para. 3, line 1).
The quote is coming from Marlow, upon arriving at the outer station, and first witnessing the devastation the Belgians have caused the native peoples. He is speaking about the black men, who have been enslaved, dying all around him. He can see the work they are being made to do, and finds it a great horror, similar, perhaps, to what hell must be like. This quote also shows Marlow’s first recognition to an epiphany, he will later realize, as imperialism. He says clearly, these men can not be viewed as criminals, for the only function they seemed to be carrying out was dying, and die they did, in great numbers, and at the hands of the “enlightened” Europeans. I believe his conscience was getting the better of him, first seeing the death, disease, starvation, and chaos all around, allusions of a modern day genocide, which righteous people can not stand to watch, but are helpless to do anything about it.
Descriptions of Africans dying, or more precisely, being killed, are common stories surrounding imperialism. Heart of Darkness, finely details the worst kind of African imperialism, the Belgian kind. Millions of people, in what today is called the Congo, were forcefully enslaved, and then made to gather ivory tusks, and rubber plants, all the time being treated as animals, for the sole purpose of lining the pockets of the Belgian monarchy. These scenes shock the more caring, and kind hearted reader, in today’s world, and leave questions swirling in the mind about how atrocities, similar to the ones described in Heart of Darkness, could have been carried out, by a supposed more enlightened society. Surprisingly enough, European imperialists do not hold the sole rights to death and destruction. In fact, simply by reading a history book of the last 2000 years, the reader may come to the conclusion that imperialism was a natural part of empire expansion. Just look at the Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Huns, the Moslems, the Christians, and finally the British. What did they all have in common, first they all conquered territory, and usually to do this they needed to kill indigenous people, so that...