Imperialism in Heart of Darkness essay

Question: Discuss imperialism in Heart of Darkness essay. discuss the treatment of Theme of Imperialism


The novel “Heart of Darkness” composed by Joseph Conrad (1857-1924) deals with different angels of colonialism. The plot of the novel is so convinced as to imperialistic nature that the readers are really forced to feel horror in their hearts.

Reference of Roman Imperialism

This novel is initiated with an unknown narrator’s story was telling during the journey by ship over the Tames river. The next narrator is Marlow. Marlow has referred to the Roman Oversees territory looking at the water. He was asserting that England was the “Heart of Darkness” during Roman imperialism. Because they showed a hard and brutal ruling system towards the natives. He has again referred to an example of a country of Africa named Congo which is known as the heart of Africa during the period of Ivory business of Belgium Trading Business company.

“The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have different complexion……..what redeems it is the idea only.”

Through the above reference, Joseph Conrad declares that the main subject matter of the novel is Imperialism. Even he has depicted colonialism and said that England or Great Britain was also the victim of colonialism by Romans.

Symbolic Significance of White Sepulcher

The phrase white sepulcher means the white grave. When Marlow was being appointed as a captain of a boat, he had to go to the headquarters of Belgium in Brussels as the protocol of the company, then he saw that the reception room was a bright white room like a white grave. Conrad actually meant beauty outwardly by the white grave but inwardly it symbolizes impurity, brutality, corruption, and many kinds of criminal activities. Marlow understood the negative activities of the company for which the white sepulcher is used as a symbol of the bad deeds of the company.

“In a very few hours I arrived in a city that always makes me think whited sepulchre”

Imperialism is the symbol of Perjure

Perjure means false promise. Conrad shows that imperialism is a false promise and it is filled with false promise. He also portraits the picture of false oath by the motto of the Belgium Trading Company. Because they went to Africa to save the natives from illiteracy and diseases. But they never try to implant their dedication. They only built-up their business, Ivory collected business. So, Conrad perfectly sketches the false picture of the promise of imperialism.

The callousness of the white men to the natives

Callousness means brutality. The brutality of the white men is sketched in this novel. Conrad shows three stations in this novel, Primary station, Central Station, and Inner station. The natives were forced to work bound by a chain in the primary station. Even in the other stations, such kind of brutality was preserved by the white men to the natives. They did anything which they wish to collect the ivory. They sometimes betrayed people to know the play of ivory collection.

Imperialism is Giant

Marlow had to spend some days in the central station although he did not want to. There was some cannibal in the central station, they ate meat but never attacked the white men rather they obeyed them as their honored master. Imperialism is giant because the cannibals told the white men that handover the African black as their food during the violence before reached in the inner station. But they never wanted to eat the whites. So, Conrad asserts that imperialism is giant.

Futility of Imperialism

The officer in charge of the inner station was Kurtz and he is the perfect symbol of futility and lust. He was so much lustrous that means he had versatile lust such as having a mistress in Africa though he had a fiancé in England. Even he had a lust for money and property for which he never hesitates to destroy the house of the villagers. But his final time was horrible because he committed that his all belongings were lost.

“My intended, my ivory, my station, my river, my…… everything belonged to him”


In termination, it is conspicuous that the futile and ambivalent activities of colonialism have been unable to bring any effects for the imperialists and the natives at the same time. So, this kind of treatment of themes proves Joseph Conrad as an anti-imperialist.

S Ridoy Kumar
S Ridoy Kumar
Articles: 78

Leave a Reply

error: Sorry !!