Imperialism in Conrad and Orwell Works

Topics: Colonialism, Africa, Heart of Darkness Pages: 3 (1303 words) Published: May 13, 2008
At the turn of the 20th century, African states had been colonized and were being used by the European nations with imperialistic ideals. With imperialism came the praise and promotion of the imperialistic ideas. However, unlike other times in history where a nation had taken over another, there was criticism written by some of the writers living in the imperialistic countries. Two of these writers were Joseph Conrad, who wrote Heart of Darkness, and George Orwell, who wrote “Shooting an Elephant”. Both of their pieces comments on the dark side of imperialism and the effects it has on the colonized states and the people of the states. In Heart of Darkness, Marlow reaches Africa and sees the brutality inflicted upon the native people. They are forced to do strenuous work for the trading companies. The men are treated like slaves and often badly beaten. The Europeans who inflict this violence are not penalized for this cruelty, but rather encouraged to do so as if without restraint and without consciousness to the suffering they are causing. They are told that these people are their enemies and that they are criminals. In astonishment as to what he saw, Marlow says, “I’ve seen the devil of violence, and the devil of greed, and the devil hot desire, but by all the stars! these were strong lusty red-eyed devils that swayed and drove men—men, I tell you” (Conrad 13). These men were not challenged for their actions because the natives were held to no value. They were numerous in number and held no value as human individuals. They were simply free tools for labor and if they died it did not matter because there were at least ten other men that could take his place. This disrespect is not only seen in Africa, but also in Burma in Orwell’s “Shooting an Elephant”. After Marlow shoots the elephant, the European officers were discussing whether or not he should have killed such a valuable beast. The younger officers commented saying, “It was a shame to shoot...
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