The Heart of Darkness. Orientalism and its tragedy.
It is common to divide the world in the West and the East. This division has been used to differentiate two parts of the world that are inherently not alike either in cultural, social, political or economical aspects. However, historically, both regions of the world have been tied in one way or the other. Even though technically speaking Africa is not west of Europe, during the 19th century, African colonies were highly appreciated for their wealth and for slave trade by the European powers, a relation similar to that of the Asian colonies had with Europe, and so in that perspective we can say Africa is part of the Orient. The clash between the imperial powers and Africa eventually led to the submission of the latter and therefore created a particular point of view from where Europeans understood Africa and the relation they had with it. This mode of relating to their colonies and the cultural depictions made by Europeans were later given the term Orientalism by Edward Said. This clash of civilizations and the interplay between colonialist and natives from the colonial viewpoint, or in other words, their Orientalist prism, is one of the themes that Joseph Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness develops. Conrad displays the consequences of a society attempting to impose itself on another, illustrating the personal tragedy of an individual who lives through this clash.
Orientalism is based on the attempt to incorporate the Orient as a new resource, either cultural or economical, being something different and exotic to the Western standards. Historically, the western men have been determined by their desire to embark on voyages to new worlds; worlds that are to bring prosperity to the society these men belong to so that society can progress and grow. That is how often times, when western men do this; the potential consequences of carrying these enterprises are not questioned. These consequences are...
Cited: Said, E. (1977). Orientalism. London: Penguin.
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