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Heart of Darkness Research Papers

Literature research papers can look at historical or symbolic aspects of any novel. Conrad's Heart of Darkness is one of the most common novels studied in World Literature courses today. Get help from our writers at Paper Masters on any Heart of Darkness project you have to write.

Joseph Conrad’s 1902 novel Heart of Darkness is invaluable for its frank portrayal of European colonialism in the Belgian Congo.  Although Heart of Darkness is undoubtedly a work of fiction and a product of Conrad’s imagination, the fact that Conrad’s own experiences of 1889-90 mirror those laid out in the novel serves to increase the credibility of the historical framework of the text. Heart of Darkness Historical investigations and the posthumous publication of Conrad’s personal papers have confirmed that Conrad endured a series of incidents remarkably similar to that recounted by Marlow, as a Belgian agent inextricably torn “between colonizing Europe and exploited Africa”.  In this context, Heart of Darkness transcends the confines usually placed upon a work of art and becomes a valuable narrative recording a dismal, largely undocumented period in the history of European imperialism.

Conrad's Heart of Darkness

In a research papers on Heart of Darkness, you will examine the following:

  1. Heart of Darkness as an account of the colonization of the Belgian Congo related in Conrad’s Heart Of Darkness. 
  2. Review traditional historical sources lending factual accounts of the same era and institutions. 
  3. Assess the overall relevance of Heart of Darkness to the body of historical documentation of European imperialism in the Belgian Congo.

Heart of darkness and European Colonization

The representation of the European colonization of the Belgian Congo which Conrad offers in Heart of Darkness is a squalid one.  Peculiar to Conrad’s account of the conditions is his keen writer’s awareness of the subtle psychological dynamics of both the colonizers and the colonized.  He was highly aware of “the peculiar transformations brought about in both the European colonialists and the colonized natives through their encounter”.  Although much scholarly debate has persisted regarding Conrad’s own racism and imperialistic tendencies, his description of the terrible conditions perpetuated by the European colonization of the Congo indicts both the ‘savages’ and the ‘pilgrims’.  Admittedly, Conrad’s descriptions of the Africans are peppered with Eurocentric terminology that reaffirms the context of the era he was writing in.  Before the advent of cultural relativism, Africans were seen as primitive, savage, and backwards.  Conrad does not allow Marlow as the narrator of the tale to portray the African natives as three-dimensional humans, but in light of the era in which Conrad was writing, it would be remarkable for him to do so.  As reprehensible as it seems in a contemporary context, Africans simply were not regarded as equal counterparts with the Europeans who were benefiting from Africa’s natural resources.  In spite of this, Conrad exhibits sincere compassion for the plight of the exploited natives of the Congo, as made clear by his diction and tone in passages describing the treatment of the Africans.

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