Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’ is a post-colonial text

Joseph Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’ is a post-colonial text about European imperialism and its effects. The story is about how Marlow transport ivory down the Congo River. As his journey continues, he is shocked to find out the inhumane treatment of the natives. Though the story is maining reflecting Marlow’s experience and the author’s intent was to counter the ideas of colonialism, it only reinforces it. It reinforces it through the idolization of Kurtz who set a precedent as the ideal colonizer. Marlow as the narrator impacts the story through his lens. His point of view provides a great deal of conflict for the readers because he is conflicted in his own beliefs. When Marlow first meets the natives, he described them in such a manner of sympathy and sorrow. “They were not enemies, they were not criminals, they were nothing earthly now, nothing but black shadows of disease and starvation lying confusedly in the greenish gloom. Brought from all the recesses of the coast in all the legality of time contracts, lost in uncongenial surroundings, fed on unfamiliar food, they sickened, became inefficient, and were then allowed to crawl away and rest” (Conrad 156). Marlow was very keen to the environment the natives were in. This sears a terrible and inhuman picture that colonialism brings to reality. The brutal nature of the colonizers show a flipside to their horrific practice encompassed by their lowly state. The description makes the audience sympathize with the natives and uses irony to twist how white men are savages.This view is only limited for once Marlow meets the head of the Company, he goes back to the mindset of glorifying white power. He forgets the natives he just saw and goes about partaking in the same practice. This dismisses the argument of countering post colonial ideas. In the ?rst part of this passage, the natives are referred to as “black shapes”,resembling humans at all in Marlow’s mind. Their descriptions show how they are so closely related to nature as they “sat between trees”, “leaned against trunks”, and were”clinging to the earth”. In this ?rst description, they were one with the earth – almost seeming as trees themselves; however, not human. The earth seemed to sense as it’s brothers were passing, for when the natives began to arrive Marlow felt a “slight shudder of the soil under his feet”. Marlow didn’t seem to understand this, though, ashe goes on to say that they were “nothing earthly now – nothing but black shadows of disease and starvation, lying confusedly in the greenish gloom”. At this point in the novel, he has not even begun to realize the power of nature on the island, nor given much regard to the earth itself at all. So when the earth did show its despair through the”shudder”, he thought nothing of it. However, as they come closer, they move from “black shapes” to “moribund shapes”. Now these new shapes seemed “free as air” to Marlow, as he began to realize their importance to their partner, nature. Even in their last moments they relied on nature to hold them, as a dying native “reclined at full length with one shoulder against the tree” to carry out his ?nal breaths. Now Marlow is starting to see these creatures for who they are – people – as he describes their “black bones” and “sunken eyes”. Still,though, they are disconnected; thinking of nothing else he can do, Marlow offers the man on of the biscuits he has lying in his pocket, received by “The ?ngers”. In his description, they are not “his ?ngers”, but “The ?ngers”, portraying the fact that the human quality of phalanges are not actually belonging to this being, for it is not human.But as the passage goes on, Marlow overcomes this referring to other parts of the native’s body like “his black neck” using the proper pronoun. Giving them human characteristics shows the slow process of the realization of Marlow of the undying connection between man and nature. After this moment of full realization, Marlow slowly goes back into his blindness of seeing the humans more as inanimate objects. As more approach, he calls them”bundles of acute angles”. Still observing the horrifying of slow, yet imminent death before him, he sees “one of these creatures rose to his hands and knees, and went off on all-fours towards the river to drink. He lapped out of his hand, then sat up in thesunlight crossing his shins in front of him, and after a time let his wooly head fall on hisbreastbone”. This sequence is most resembling a dog, demonstrating that Marlow hascompleted the process of both coming in and out of the realization of seeing the nativesas mankind, fully dependent upon and connected to nature. Through this passage, Conrad demonstrates through Marlow’s coming in and out of consciousness of the truth, that man and nature are eternally intertwined. Within thatbrief moment that Marlow saw through clear eyes this truth, he also saw the natives intheir true form as well. Mankind is completely reliant on nature; regardless of whetherthey be in denial of this fact or whether they accept it, it holds true. Through Marlow, thepath of denial shows only ignorance: he disregards the power of nature around him, aswell as the truth in many matters. This ignorance only leads to turning a blind eye tomany other realities of the world. Although many believe the path of dark truth to be theroad less desirable, the life led through the light lies is in reality worse. To live in thelight, to let yourself be fooled by these lies, is allowing yourself to be less than your fullpotential, for you are willingly submerging yourself into ignorance. Although truths, suchas nature, can be dark and overwhelming, if one accepts it as an ally, ones full potentialcan be more in reach. The natives, for example, used nature to their advantage, andhad the upperhand above the “civilized folk” throughout the entire novel. Those whodon’t accept the dark truths are too preoccupied with “cookie-cutter” life-styles:everyone must have a speci?c job to do, machines must be made for they have aspeci?c job to do and do not stray, and so on. But life isn’t all about work; it is abouttaking the risk and accepting the truth – no matter how dark.