Essay Sample: Colonialism/Imperialism
“Imperialism, together with its oppressive processes has greatly affected societies and individuals for a long time now. In Heart of Darkness by Conrad, oppression through imperialism is portrays how a Congolese is negatively affected by colonialism. The oppressions suffered by Congo in the heart of darkness are both geographical and economical, and the oppressed individuals are exploited spiritually. Conrad precisely describes how the ruling tyrant gets affected through the process of conquering a local individual and suggests a parallel to the reigning empire. Also, negative consequences associated with colonialism are demonstrated in this novel. Congo gets victimized by the British imperialists when they conquer it economically and financially.
When the British came to Congo, they promised to change their ways of livelihood and introduce their culture to the Congolese; but, they reaped the advantages of the nation’s rich resources. In Conrad, (67), Marlow asserts, “the seed of the commonwealth, the germs of empires…” when the European nations colonized African states, they administered them with imperialistic ideas. Marlow witnessed the brutality inflicted on the natives by being forced to undertake strenuous for the trading firms. Surprisingly, the men were deemed as slaves and always beaten severely. Interestingly, the perpetrators of such inhumane acts were never penalized for their misconduct, but rather encouraged to do without restraint and without consciousness to the suffering the caused. They were always reminded that Africans are criminals and their enemies. Marlow explains, “I have witnessed violence and the devil of greed…” (Conrad 13).
Ultimately, shooting an elephant, boldly demonstrated his stand on imperialism. The set of the story happened when Orwell travelled to Burma to serve the Indian Imperial police. In the era of colonialism, the dominant empires controlled several subordinate nations to exploit their wealth. Shooting the elephant reveals Orwell’s first rejection to imperialism, whereby he applies parallelism to convey a message on imperialism between British Empire and Burmese elephant. Even though the author worked as an officer of the British Empire, he strongly opposed the imperialism idea.
Specifically, the author rests on the elephant to simplify British Empire and draws a link between the imperial British rule and the elephant using its physical traits and effects on Burma. In the author’s reasoning, the elephant is the biggest animal in the entire animal kingdom and symbolizes the imperialistic British rule. The huge size represents the power that was assumed unstoppable.
Both the elephant and British colonial rule had some similarities. In the event of describing the ideal nature of imperialism, Orwell distinctively connects the words grey, dirty evil, and convicts. Orwell describes the consequences of the elephant as terrorizing and wild, “he was sleeping on his stomach with his teeth grinning” (Orwell 790). The author maintains that killing an unarmed animal is wrong, and further deems then action as murder. Nonetheless, the natives are waiting for the author to shoot the animal. He clearly understands that whether he shoots the elephant or not, he can never change the natives perceptions regarding him, as a British officer. The death of the elephant symbolized the downfall of imperial rule.
Both texts portrayed similar as well as varied opinions on imperialism. Firstly, the two works evidenced the theme of brutality and exigent greed. Since Burma and Congo are colonized places, the major idea of the imperialists rests on taking everything from such nations for the sake of the wealthy states. Also, the imperialists think that they are above the law as the colonized states are not their mother states. Consequently, they commit inhumane acts and treat the natives badly without guilt. In the Heart of Darkness, Eldorado expedition manifests a typical imperialistic attitude…”
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