Compare Joseph Conrad's and George Orwell's views on imperialism as revealed in Heart of Darkness and "Shooting an Elephant."

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gekkolies eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Orwell and Conrad both portray imperialism as an evil oppression towards other groups.  Orwell describes British imperialism in "Shooting an Elephant", as "an unbreakable tyranny". Then, the narrator further contrasts how he would like to kill the natives. 

Conrad's dreary description of the influence of the British on the Africans is also an attack against the oppression of imperialism.  Although the British think that they are "good" people, the story proves otherwise.  In fact, the British colonized, tortured and exploited the Africans.  

Another view pointed out in both works is how imperialists act together to overlook things to save face in society.

arachnoblaster | Student

I would disagree firmly with 'gekkolies' version of events because firstly, 'gekkolies' states that Conrad portrays imperialism as 'an evil oppression towards other groups.' This is highly debatable because there are those who maintain that Conrad's Heart of Darkness facilitates a Eurocentric view of Africa and Africans thus making him a part of that oppression. Some (Chinua Achebe), have condemned Conrad as a racist based on his descriptions of Africans as 'niggers' and of his denial of African culture as anything other than savage. Secondly, 'gekkolies' analysis of 'Conrad's dreary description of the influence of the British on the Africans' is totally erroneous - Conrad's Heart of Darkness is set in the Belgian Congo, which as it's name suggests, was a colony ruled by Belgium not Britain - one of the reasons why Conrad's book was deemed palatable among the British reading public, because they could distance themselves from British atrocities in Africa.

I am sorry but in my opinion 'gekkolies' answer to Conrad's and Orwell's views on imperialism is fundamentally flawed and as a teacher 'gekkolies' has failed this student with erroneous deductions and false suppositions.

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Heart of Darkness

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