Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad, is an intriguing and extremely disturbing portrayal of man"s surrender to his carnal nature when all external trappings of "civilization" are removed. This novel excellently portrays the shameful ways in which the Europeans exploited the Africans: physically, socially, economically, and spiritually.
Throughout the nineteenth century, Europeans treated their African counterparts savagely. They were beaten, driven from their homes, and enslaved. Heart of Darkness is no exception. In the first section of the novel, Marlow is disgusted by the condition of the Africans at the First Station. His encounter with the chain gang sickens him to the point where he is forced to wait for them to pass. He even takes
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Both methods shared some common results; they both socially exploited the natives. In most cases, the natives were forced to abandon their villages and "relocate" to the European settlements. Marlow is amazed by the unbelievable number of deserted villages he encounters during his trek to the Central Station. The natives were also forced to adopt Western styles of dressing. Prior to the advent of the Europeans, most African natives did not wear clothes. After the Europeans, they were forced to wear at the very least a loincloth and in many cases, they adopted other aspects of Western dress. In the grove of trees at the First Station, Marlow encounters a native wearing a "bit of white worsted" about his neck. The Europeans also shamelessly exploited the spiritual nature of the natives. They were forced to leave their homeland and in some cases, travel extremely great distances to work in the European settlements until their death. Near the time of their death, when they were too sick to work, they were often denied their traditional death and burial rituals in favor of the more "civilized" European ritual of burying the dead. At the First Station, no thought is given to the Africans who are in the grove of trees, waiting to die. The natives" spiritual beliefs were often ignored and exploited for earthly purposes. Kurtz preyed upon their belief of his divinity and forced them to violate the sacred elephant burial grounds to dig