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Lessons Learned from “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad

Marlow left for Africa specifically to Congo in the service of the Belgian company occupying Congo as its protectorate (Conrad 3). However, when Marlow was presented with the map showing the Belgian empire, he raised concerns with the effects of imperial presence in Africa. For instance, the Congolese viewed the Belgian practice of colonialism as the most cruel and inhumane. In addition, the Belgian king, Leopold run the Congolese affairs as his personal coffers. Marlow’s concerns were evident when he met the different colonial powers in the continent that applied violent ways in their missions to achieve their destiny.

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In this regard, Marlow agreed to go to Congo to undertake the Belgian colonial practices but his personal urge for exploration overshadowed the imperial activities. Further, the idealistic views of women were considered as acquired from religious convictions as opposed to experience. According to Marlow, women were people subjected to confinement, prejudice and oppression. Therefore, had no experience of what occurred in the protectorates.

The changes that the colonialists underwent in Africa further prompted Marlow’s desire to travel to Congo. In Congo, unfathomable surfaces were impediments to Marlow’s infiltration into the interior of the land. Imperialism formed the centre stage of Marlow’s concerns. In other words, the European ways of addressing the issues of African continent characterized by artillery firing blindly showed the behavior of the colonialists.

Marlow was also concerned with the activities that the colonialists spent much of their time doing. For example, the members of the Belgian company based in the coastal part of Congo engaged in exploding rock faces for no cause. Further, the state of machines as well as poor allotment of suppliers meant inefficiency thereby occasioning the thought of other motives apart from the colonial activity. The horror scene of the dying men seen by Marlow made him conclude the nature and outcomes of imperialism as dehumanizing as well as death. Further, Marlow reflected on the cruelty that the native inhabitants suffered in the hands of the colonial masters (Conrad 33). The voices of human from the wilderness meant the dehumanizing ordeals they faced.

Further, Marlow had trouble in working with the members of the Belgian company due to their ineptitude and idleness. In this regard, Marlow spent most of his time repairing his ship to circumvent him from experiencing the appalling scenes between his European colleagues and the savagery of the locals. Moreover, Marlow viewed Kurtz, the protectorates manager as insane since the rationalizations of humanitarian principles were merely Kurtz’s justification for abuse as well as extortion of the natives.

Contrary to the natives’ perception of Kurtz as mythological god, Marlow viewed him as a presenter of diverse dreadful evil (Conrad 63). In other words, Marlow saw Kurtz as a man with absolute pervasion over duplicitous validation of brutality. Interestingly, it is worth noting that Marlow, the Indian trader and Kurtz aligned together against other Europeans, an infrequent episode in the protectorates. Further, Marlow embraced ideals of modernism in the protectorate while reflecting the principles of the Victorian forerunners.

As such, he was able to think independently as well as act as a liaison between the existing extremes of the Belgian company. The model he applied in approaching the colony enabled him survive in Africa. However, the horrific ordeals that the Africans underwent in the hands of the Belgian company and the degeneration of Kurtz life made him disgusted. In this regard, Marlow was able to intercede between acting intellectually and applying force in dealing with the natives of the protectorate.

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Lessons learned from Marlow’s life

The first important lesson learned from Marlow’s life in the protectorate was the ludicrousness of evil associated with imperialism (Conrad 18). From the book, it is evident that when Marlow was in Africa, he was persuaded either to embrace the duplicitous as well as the malevolent colonial rules or to openly defy Kurtz. In this regard, it is evident that mediating on the best alternative to choose is recklessness.

In essence, the appalling situations that Marlow encountered in the colony brought out the picture clearly. For instance, the native inhabitants blasting away in the hillside without a specific cause portrayed a ridiculous picture of idiocy. In addition, the actions of some natives trying to carry water-buckets with holes showed the incongruous ways of the colonial operations. In fact, the solemn as well as ordinary situations are acted on in the same way thereby exposing the reflective ethical mystification and immense duplicity in the protectorate (Conrad 23).

The duplicity of imperialism is further exposed in numerous ways. For example, the panorama of torture, brutality and nearly-slavery that the natives were subjected to depicted the colonial enterprise as harsh and brutal. Further, the Belgian employees considered the torture of the natives as civilization thereby defending the rhetoric applied to validate colonization. For example, Kurtz openly recognized his treatment of Africans as that of suppression and annihilation revealing his anarchic rule using violence and intimidation.

More interestingly, Kurtz went further to admit the fact that he never traded but acquired ivory forcefully. Consequently, Kurtz’s wickedness exposed his malevolent deeds in Africa. The dehumanizing conditions that Africans were subjected to by the whites enabled Marlow’s self-reflection on their subjugation. As such, Marlow condemned the insincere actions of colonialism.

Another important lesson from Marlow’s life exposed the folly that was associated with imperialism. The insanity arose from the context in which the company was managed. The whites considered Africa as a place that was conscientious for rational degeneration in addition to physical infirmities. On this note, when Marlow sets for Congo, he was told about Kurtz’s madness. The picture became a reality when he arrived in Congo. Madness of Kurtz was combined with total authority as well as elemental imperfection. In addition, absolute influence was linked to ethical brilliance. For instance, Kurtz had absolute authority to himself and he was not answerable to anybody.

From the life of Marlow, it is evident that women played a critical role as a medium through which men displayed their status and achievements. For instance, Marlow viewed women as the custodian of naïve delusions. In this point of view, the illusions were responsible for the expansion of colonial financial enterprise. Further, Marlow’s life exposed the deceitful rhetoric used by the Belgians about the mission of civilization in Africa (Conrad 29). For example, the white sepulchers represented beautiful impressions on the exterior while containing awful scenes in the interior thereby justifying the dehumanizing conditions that the natives went through. In fact, the Belgian protectorate subjected the natives in its Congo colony to inhumane acts characterized by torture and brutality.

Works Cited

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. Radford, Virginia: Wilder Publications, 2008. Print.

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