Heart Of Darkness Response Assignment Essay

This essay has a total of 959 words and 4 pages.

Heart Of Darkness Response Assignment

"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 they could use newly conquered land, for their needs. Secondly,
these civilizations never seemed to have qualms about the murder, of sometimes millions of
people, and destruction they caused in their quest for riches.

The question begs to be asked were all these conquering civilization barbarians? A brief
definition is people that are uncivilized, cruel, inhumane, lacking moral insight. So, do
the colonial Europeans fit into this category of barbarity? It would seem so. I mean, it
has been estimated that 10 million Africans died under Belgian rule. What a paradox that
the people, who were supposedly the most enlightened, the most religious, and the
torchbearers of humanity, were they same people causing so much despair to Africa. So what
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