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Racism in Joseph Conrads Heart of darkness
2001 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor)Student thesis
Abstract [en]

My thesis is to explore Marlow`s ambivalence about colonialism and I will also look upon Kurtz and see what effect colonialism had on him. Finally, I will explore why the white and the black culture are portrayed differently in the novel Heart of Darkness, written by Joseph Conrad. Marlow and Kurtz lives in the Victorian era. The Victorian era was an era of progress and nations colonised the third world. Marlow`s feelings about colonialism are ambivalent because at first he states that he feels sorry for the black men he meets at the first station in the Congo and he feels bad when he sees how the country is abused by the colonisers. But, later on in the novel, he states that colonialism is good if it is done properly and efficient. The ambivalence concerning colonialism is very evident and so is Marlow`s feelings of disgust for greed. Greed is what has brought Kurtz down to Africa and here Kurtz becomes a lunatic. He is described, by everyone Marlow meets, as an intelligent and interesting man. Marlow gets obsessed by the thought of meeting this man, but as he travels up the river to meet Kurtz, his feelings for Kurtz cools of. Kurtz` escapades, in the search for ivory, has come to Marlow`s knowledge and he despises Kurtz for being so greedy and so cruel to the black people living around him, in the wilderness. The wilderness is portrayed as something dark and dangerous, and is described like something evil, ready to throw itself upon the white men. The black culture is described in a similar matter. The black people are often portrayed as dancing, howling and swaying out of control while the white culture symbolises stability and civilisation. The boat, which Marlow and the other men are travelling on, is a symbol for just that and here is the only place where Marlow feels safe. The conclusions are that Marlow is ambivalent about colonialism. He protects colonialism if it has a proper purpose and is done efficiently but he also states that he despises the colonisers for their abuse of the country and its people. One also discovers that Marlow despises greed and that becomes evident when he hears about Kurtz` and his actions. The effect colonialism had on Kurtz was that he became more greedy and he saw himself as a person that could rule over the black people. The greed made Kurtz go mad and made his soul hollow and black. The nature is not described as hollow but as dangerous and mysterious, and so is the black culture. The black culture symbolises the dangerous and uncivilised while the white culture symbolises stability and civilisation.

Abstract [en]

My thesis is to explore Marlow`s ambivalence about colonialism and I will also look upon Kurtz and see what effect colonialism had on him. Finally, I will explore why the white and the black culture are portrayed differently in the novel Heart of Darkness, written by Joseph Conrad. Marlow and Kurtz lives in the Victorian era. The Victorian era was an era of progress and nations colonised the third world. Marlow`s feelings about colonialism are ambivalent because at first he states that he feels sorry for the black men he meets at the first station in the Congo and he feels bad when he sees how the country is abused by the colonisers. But, later on in the novel, he states that colonialism is good if it is done properly and efficient. The ambivalence concerning colonialism is very evident and so is Marlow`s feelings of disgust for greed. Greed is what has brought Kurtz down to Africa and here Kurtz becomes a lunatic. He is described, by everyone Marlow meets, as an intelligent and interesting man. Marlow gets obsessed by the thought of meeting this man, but as he travels up the river to meet Kurtz, his feelings for Kurtz cools of. Kurtz` escapades, in the search for ivory, has come to Marlow`s knowledge and he despises Kurtz for being so greedy and so cruel to the black people living around him, in the wilderness. The wilderness is portrayed as something dark and dangerous, and is described like something evil, ready to throw itself upon the white men. The black culture is described in a similar matter. The black people are often portrayed as dancing, howling and swaying out of control while the white culture symbolises stability and civilisation. The boat, which Marlow and the other men are travelling on, is a symbol for just that and here is the only place where Marlow feels safe. The conclusions are that Marlow is ambivalent about colonialism. He protects colonialism if it has a proper purpose and is done efficiently but he also states that he despises the colonisers for their abuse of the country and its people. One also discovers that Marlow despises greed and that becomes evident when he hears about Kurtz` and his actions. The effect colonialism had on Kurtz was that he became more greedy and he saw himself as a person that could rule over the black people. The greed made Kurtz go mad and made his soul hollow and black. The nature is not described as hollow but as dangerous and mysterious, and so is the black culture. The black culture symbolises the dangerous and uncivilised while the white culture symbolises stability and civilisation.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2001. , 24 p.
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-53668Local ID: ENG C-12OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-53668DiVA: diva2:1102228
Subject / course
English
Available from: 2017-05-29 Created: 2017-05-29

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