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Heart of Darkness - Postcolonial Criticism

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Jeffrey Walker

on 5 November 2012

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Transcript of Heart of Darkness - Postcolonial Criticism

Post-colonial Criticism BY:
Jeffrey Walker
Denny Kang
Emily Cameron How does the literary text, explicitly or allegorically, represent various aspects of colonial oppression? How does the text respond to or comment upon the characters, themes, or assumptions of a colonialist work? How is the text shaped by its representation of cultural differences? Does this representation support or undermine colonialist ideologies? Physical Oppression: "They were dying slowly - it was very clear. They were not enemies, they were not criminals, they were nothing earthly now, - nothing but black shadows of disease and starvation..." (Conrad 53) "A quarrelsome band of footsore niggers trod on the heels of the donkey..." (Conrad 68) Heart of Darkness Loss of African Identity: There is a lack of a strong African voice in the piece. Of the two black characters of
any importance, only one has a very minor speaking role and both are presented as
savage. (Conrad 81) Africans are not described in any other way except as inhuman or pieces of property. The Africans who work in the mines and the ones who follow the Eldorado Explorers Club are too weak, both physically and spiritually, to do anything about the invaders. They are downtrodden, the victims of racism, cannot do anything about their situation, and their culture is not explained or shown at all. (Conrad 81) The Africans at the Inner
Station worship Kurtz, a white man, which represents their dependence with the white man. (Conrad 113) Eurocentric Ideals: Marlow refers to the Africans as black shadows, never really addresses them as
humans. (Conrad 53) Kurtz’s last words signify the terrible deeds he had committed. Only a man
as “great” and noble as Kurtz recognized what he was doing was wrong, and even then, it was only at his death. (Conrad 120) Kurtz and the other managers truly believe that the work they are doing is humanitarian and righteous. European Moral Degradation: Colonialism had lasting effects on not only the African natives, but on the European colonists as well. "an ivory ball; it had caressed him, and - lo! -he had withered; it had taken him, loved him, embraced him, got into his veins, consumed his flesh, and sealed his soul..." (Conrad 90) "They wandered here and there with their absurd long staves in their hands, like a lot of faithless pilgrims bewitched inside a rotten fence." (Conrad 60) Post-colonial Vocabulary Imperialism - (n.) policy of extending a country's power/influence using diplomacy or military force Hegemony - (n.) leadership or dominance,
esp. by one country or social group Eurocentric - (adj.) focusing on European
culture or history to the exclusion of a
wider view of the world; implicitly
regarding European culture as preeminent Oppression - (n.) prolonged
cruel or unjust treatment or control Othering - (n.) the act of treating a race of human beings as lower or inferior Sphere of Influence - (n.) a spatial region over which a state has significant cultural, economic, military, or political influence
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