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The Relevance of Heart of Darkness Today

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Gillian Cameron

on 17 April 2013

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Transcript of The Relevance of Heart of Darkness Today

The Heart of Darkness: Relevant to Today? By: Gillian Cameron, Danica Sawicki, and Connor Naujokaitis Quickly state whether you believe H.o.D. is relevant today, and why. Thesis! The Relevance of: FEMINISM What is Feminism? Feminism is the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men Within the Book... Feminism in The Heart of Darkness is a very prevalent topic within the context of the book. The book was written when there were huge inequalities among men and women. The main idea was that men are more powerful, capable and knowledgeable about everything in life. Women were often treated poorly and looked at as objects. Men showed plenty of power and intelligence while women were constantly labeled as powerless and stupid. "They - the women, I mean - are out of it - should be out of it. We must help them to stay in that beautiful world of their own, lest ours gets worse."
-Marlow Here, Marlow is insisting the world would be a better place if women didn’t always voice their ideas or opinions. They need to keep to themselves and live in ‘their own world’. Relevance in 2013 The oppression of women as seen in the Heart of Darkness, is still prevalent in society today. It affects women in many of their lives, such as:
“Glass Ceiling” effect, prevents women from rising the corporate ladder
Many prestigious jobs are dominated by men (90% of CEO’s are males) while lower paying jobs are held by women
Since women can only have children, certain positions do not consider women because they do not want her to go on mat. leave
For the most part, women are still expected to prosecute the domestic duties at home
No one asks the women to do these things; society has taught them that they are expected too
Even in our society today women are seen at material objects
Ongoing message to all generations of women that they are expected to look a certain way so that men are impressed with them (sex-appeal)
The media has taught women that if they don’t act, talk or look a certain way then there is something wrong with them and men will never take interest in you The Relevance of: RACISM/RACE INEQUALITY Inequalities Between Countries Marlow calls Africa "a prehistoric Earth" with "prehistoric men." This can still be seen as true today. Due to the fact that Africa is considered the poorest continent, they would not be as caught up with us in the field of technology, which may be considered prehistoric to us. In today’s world, a cell phone is a must, but from an African perspective, food is a must

This article discusses the African economy. It goes on to say that Africa remains the world's poorest and most underdeveloped continent, the result of a variety of causes that may include the spread of deadly diseases (HIV/AIDS, malaria), corrupt governments that have often committed serious human rights violations, high levels of illiteracy, and frequent tribal and military conflict.
Racism in H.o.D. "Dusty n*****, dressed severely with fierce nostrils, bloodshot eyes, and sharp teeth." “I could see every rib, the joints of their links were like knots in a rope: each had an iron collar on his neck and all were connected together with a chain whose bights swung between them” These passages represent how badly the natives are being treated and the slavery that is occurring. The natives were slaved to do the work for the British people which insisted them on working in the mine until it lead to their death. While racism may not be as widespread or as blatant as before, it exists, without a doubt. While we like to think that those unfortunate days of racism are behind us, it still exists. Today, racism is much less obvious and less prevalent. However, we are still reminded that racism is alive and well, and we must continue working to eradicate it. The Relevance of: CAPITALISM Capitalism in H.o.D. Instead of civilizing the savages like they intended to do, they became exploiters of the land. The Belgian trading companies sent their agents into the Congo for trading purposes. The chief commodity which these Belgians found was ivory, useless for the natives, while the white men collected ivory and sent it to Europe. Ivory dominates the thoughts of the manager, of the brick-maker, and of the several white agents whom Marlow gives the name of “faithless pilgrims”. Ivory not only dominates the thoughts of Mr. Kurtz but has become his obsession. He collects more ivory than all the other agents put together.

Ivory symbolizes the white man’s greed and their commercial mentality. The greater the ivory collected by an agent, the greater is his achievement and the higher is the promotion which he can expect. Nowhere do we find any service being rendered by these white men in Congo, only exploits. Capitalist Exploitation Today We see a contemporary (2008) example of exploitation in Myanmar, where potential employees recruited in poor countries with promises of high-paying jobs were trafficked into Myanmar, where they had their passports confiscated and were coerced into signing 3-year contracts in a language they did not understand. Unable to escape, they are paid $6/day to produce Nike shoes that can cost $125 or more in Western nations. Workers are housed in sets of 350 in a single dirty tin shed with one "trough" for bathing, and only a few bathrooms--located directly adjacent to where they eat. There are two faces of Nike: their "public face" of super-star athletes (e.g. Tiger Woods was paid $22 million/yr by Nike) and the "hidden misery" of workers that produce their products. These “sweatshops” are infamous examples of the unfairness of capitalism. Discussion! (1) Nike, which claims to be a socially responsible company, continues to exploit their workers. Is this situation unique to individual companies, is this a central component of capitalism?

(2) Does this change your opinion on companies who use forced labour? Would you stop buying their products? Discussion! (1) Is Marlow racist at the beginning of the book? Do his views change at all by the end?

(2) Can you think of any examples of modern day racism? Discussion! (1) Can you think of any other areas where women are oppressed?

(2) Why do you think there is still sexism in 2013? Why do you think we have not been able to move past it? The Heart of Darkness is relevant to today because the elements it deals with, such as capitalist exploitation, racism/racial inequality, and sexism, are all pressing issues that society is still grappling with in 2013. Final Question... Now that you have listened to this seminar, has your opinion changed on whether or not you think H.o.D. is relevant to today? Why or Why not? Thank you for listening :)
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