Is Heart of Darkness a criticism of colonialism?

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mattbuckley | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

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Joseph Conrad's short novel Heart of Darknesscould be seen as a criticism of colonialism and my scholars have written upon the book and tried to prove it as such. The evidence is certainly there in abundance if you read through the story with the right set of eyes. The white men move into Africa and do very little to improve the lives of the natives. Instead they abuse and use the natives to enhance their own personal goals and missions, in this case, making money off the ivory trade. The culmination of this is seen in Kurtz who essentially is playing God with the natives. He went to Africa to be "an emissary of light". However, in the end he showed savagery.