What would be a reason that describes the importance of Heart of Darkness in its historical context?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that part of the reason why Conrad's work is so compelling is that it provides one of the strongest metaphors for what Colonialism represented.  Kurtz becomes one of these symbols that represents both the glory of Colonialism and its blood- laden atrocities.  This is where Conrad's work achieves a large level of importance.  It explores the veneer of greatness and triumph that Colonial exploits largely received by the Western world.  Yet, at the same time, it explores the full extent of what Colonialism meant to the indigenous people.  The guise of "civilization" was used to justify some of the most uncivilized in actions on the part of Western society.  While the subject of Conrad's work is the Belgian exploitation of the Congo area, its real importance and significance is that it can be applied to any Western nation in its interaction with other areas of the world.  Western colonialism and imperialism is reflected in how Kurtz approached what he did and how Conrad depicts it.  This is so significant because it forces a more thorough and reflective examination of the practice of Colonialism, and in a larger sense, how wealthy nations interact with those that lack the material wealth that these nations possess.  It is in this where I think that Conrad's work is so important in terms of the historical context depicted.


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