Heart of Darkness Questions and Answers
by Joseph Conrad

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Did Conrad’s brief but intense experience in Africa in 1890 open his eyes to Europe’s crimes, or did he visit and return with the same blinders worn by others during his time? Your answer should include mention of Belgium’s role in the so-called Congo Free Republic.

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From 1885 to the beginning of the twentieth century, King Leopold II of Belgium ruled the Congo Free State in Africa as though it were his own personal possession. His tyrannical reign was even more brutal than other cruel and racist examples of European colonialism on the African continent.

Leopold’s plan was to loot the plentiful ivory and rubber resources in the area and keep the profits for himself. To accomplish his goals, he was responsible for murdering millions of people. History often compares his conquest of the region to Hitler’s holocaust. For more than two decades, he enslaved the people of the Congo for the ivory and rubber trade.

In 1902, author Joseph Conrad published his now famous novel about his experiences as a steamer captain along the Congo River in equatorial Africa. His journey set the scene for Heart of Darkness, and the horrors of Leopold’s forced labor system that he witnessed found their way into scenes in the novel. Conrad’s haunting imagery leaves little...

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