Heart of Darkness

Ambiguities in Conrad’s Sympathies 12th Grade

Authored in the midst of the peak of European imperialistic pursuits, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness documents the subjugation of the native African peoples by their rapacious European colonialist invaders. The primary protagonist and narrator of the text, Marlow, while a member of the colonialist forces, evidently separates himself from the hegemonic Eurocentric cultural paradigm throughout his journey on the River Congo. In using his narrative vehicle as a pariah figure among his fellow Europeans, Conrad reveals his own sympathies as being with those who oppose and are victims of the colonialist endeavor he deems as oppressive and performed for purely economic purposes. Throughout the text, Conrad’s sympathetic depiction of the Congolese and the physical environment they inhabit demonstrates his condemnatory perception of the European intrusion, as does his consistent critique of those who propagate and represent its progress. Ultimately, through a post-colonial lens of criticism, Conrad deconstructs the notion of European anthropological superiority.

Conrad depicts the Congolese peoples, indigenous to the lands invaded by Marlow and his fellow Europeans, as recipients of his sympathy. Although the comments made regarding...

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