In the ego of humans and the
In the current era of decolonization, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is one of the strongest works about British imperialism in the colonial time. This novella is not exactly a criticism on European imperialism, but rather a representation of colonialism and the motives of inhumane darkness. Conrad’s work this casts a light on the ego of humans and the European conformity that was taking advantage of the native Congolese. However, in an assumed exposure on the European reign, there is an insufficient mentioning of the thousands of natives who have suffered through this European oppression. Conrad’s focus in the book was mainly focused around the horror of losing humanity in the wilderness instead of the immoral exploitation of the natives. For Conrad to attain this, the native African is continuously dehumanized, to the extent that they were only seen as savages just because of their lack of Western culture. This essay will focus on the representation of the native Africans in Heart of Darkness and why they are portrayed in an uncivilized and unheard way.First of all, early on in the story the natives are seen as inhuman creatures because of their skinny black bodies and big mask-like faces. They are rather seen as parts of a working machine than moral humans. Conrad mentions “You could see from afar the white of their eyeballs glistening. They shouted, sang; their bodies streamed with perspiration; they had faces like grotesque masks —…but they had bone, muscle, a wild vitality, an intense energy of movement…”, this passage, early on in the story when Marlow arrives in the Congo inlands, gives the first impression of how the natives were seen without any further knowledge. They are just depicted by their noticeable body parts and primitive shouts. “Grotesque masks” signifies their faces as ludicrous, unique and grisly, their bodies would not have been seen as any better. A few passages later Conrad mentions “A lot of people, mostly black and naked, moved about like ants.” This analogy further strengthens the belief of the natives being a unification that performs routine jobs and is faithful and devoted to a commanding individual. They are also compared to ants to suggest that the natives can effortlessly be destroyed as they are negligible, when one dies, he can easily be replaced. Ants are symbols for hard work, which reinforces this simile even more. The natives aren’t observable as persons, rather just as profit for Marlow’s company and Great Britain. Further on in the novel, the natives are frequently depicted as somber silhouettes, obscurities and miserable animals in comparable ways.Not only the natives are just seen as animals in the novel, they are seen as a bigger part of a machine in total, part of the jungle. The outback is personified and given a soul of its own. It’s a godlike and extensive power which forms a stable connection with the locals. The jungle portrays the same savage-habitat Conrad speaks about as much as any other narrative of what “savages” actually are. “We were wanderers on a prehistoric earth… leaving hardly a sign and no memories.”, goes one of the sections in the middle of the book. This passage depicts that the Brits see the jungle as a prehistoric earth, no civilization, just trees, rivers and huts, exactly in the way how cavemen lived thousands of years ago. This primitive planet together with the primitive natives is constructed as a direct contrast to Europe, the West and its developed civilization. The Natives are also demonstrated as savages due to their distinct lack of technology. Their use of bows and arrows and spears are the primary indication of their lack of advanced technology. Their weapons are clearly inferior to the European muskets. Hence Congo and the natives are seen as the alternative form, from which the westerners have grown so much, that they don’t perceive the natives as themselves millenia ago. They natives are portrayed more and more as creatures from another world. Their primal instincts and underdeveloped language portrays make them just simple souls.Thirdly, the native Congolese are totally muted in the novel. Most of the savages portrayed to be powerless and have no faith in their live anymore. At the start, when the protagonist is in office, Marlows matches one of the natives there to a sleepwalker, a person without authority or discipline over themselves. To further reinforce the inferiority of the natives, Joseph Conrad took the language from the natives too. Instead of proper talking, Conrad made them out to communicate with “a violent babble” combined with “short, grunting phrases”. There still were some exceptions in the novel, in this occasion it would only deliver more addition on why the natives were savages. An example of this is when a native is having dinner and says “Eat ‘im!”, giving the superior Europeans one more reason why their civilization overpowers the inferior Africa..To sum up, many ways are used to portray the natives in Heart of Darkness as a savage civilization. Heart of Darkness depicts a racist representation of black people despite it trying to work its way against imperialism and weakening the flaws of the Western brain. Joseph Conrad’s idea of the world is in line with the Victorian view to race society. Published in 1899, the superior view of Europe opposed to Africa was normal and the view towards inferior races was tolerable. However, in the modern 2000’s, with reading this novel it is simple to recognize the way Conrad has reduced the natives of Africa as machines and figure to discover the flaws of European imperialism. In the process of writing Heart of Darkness, Conrad simply brutalised the natives as animal, inhuman and dumb creatures, strengthening racial stereotypes against black people.