Imperialism: a Lack of Accountability and Efficiency in Heart of Darkness

Topics: Colonialism, King Leopold's Ghost, Joseph Conrad Pages: 4 (1500 words) Published: April 27, 2011
Imperialism: A Lack of Accountability and Efficiency in Heart of Darkness Imperialism that started with the idea of civilizing the world ended as an act of ‘pure dominance and land grabbing’1. The idea behind imperialism was to populate the uninhabited lands, and to educate the primitive people of the ‘dark lands’ [i]. But when we study the history of the colonized countries or lands it is evident that imperialism never proved to be a good idea. No good has ever been done to those colonized lands and people. Rather the colonizers themselves were badly affected by it. “It is desirable that the earth should be peopled, governed, and developed, as far as possible, by the races which can do this work best, i.e. by the races of highest 'social efficiency'.”2 This idea led to the act of colonization in the world. The act of colonizing other countries was justified by the idea of civilization and this social efficiency. Many European and British countries considering themselves efficient and civilized, thought it their duty to spread “the spark from the sacred fire”, along with “the seeds of commonwealths, the germs of empire”3 to the “dark” and primitive uncivilized nations[ii]. How far they succeeded in their sacred mission is another question. Conrad’s Heart of Darkness relates well the effects of imperialism on both the colonizers and the colonized. This novella also reveals how the act of imperialism was going on in Conrad’s time and how he felt about it. It is not merely a novel dealing with some psychological and metaphysical themes; it is ‘fiction’s strongest statements about imperialism’4. After reading Heart of Darkness we can find that how imperialists’ exalted mission turned out to be a mere philanthropic pretence; the emissaries of light became the epitome of greed and brutality; and how instead of civilizing the ‘savages’, the white themselves lost their civility. Conrad is not only dealing with the darkness of Congo and the natives but also the Darkness...
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