Heart of Darkness Questions and Answers
by Joseph Conrad

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When reading Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, how might the term "efficiency" be defined in the context of imperialism?

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Very early in the first chapter of Joseph Conrad’s novel The Heart of Darkness, Marlow, the character who narrates much of the book, discusses the fact that Britain itself was once an uncivilized, savage land. He imagines the Roman conquerors who invaded Britain, and in particular he imagines the reactions of some of the rather ordinary Romans who must have come to Britain after it had been conquered. They weren’t professional soldiers; they were citizens visiting the very outskirts of the Roman empire. These were people (he says to his comrades) who had to encounter metaphorical darkness and who would have felt the

“fascination of the abomination--you know. Imagine the growing regrets [they must have felt], the longing to escape, the powerless disgust, the surrender, the hate."

“Mind,” he continues (meaning “mind you” or “I readily admit”),

“none of us would feel exactly like this. What saves us is efficiency--the devotion to efficiency. But these chaps were not much...

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