According to Neil Larsen, “Third World Literature is not the name for a well-defined literary corpus (Larsen

).” Yet, though this may be true because of different issues, he also wrote that, “Third World literature is that literature most emphatically not of the First – that is, not of the European, the Europeanized American, and perhaps simply not of the white man’s world (Larsen).” Considering this, one would ask, to whom is Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness empathic to? In his novella, Conrad used both the colonizers and the colonized. He presented them in different ways but in the end, I ask myself, are they really very different from each other? Isn’t there something of darkness that is inherent in both? It seems to me that Conrad’s novella is both a Third World and Anti-Third World text; but in the end, as someone who is also from a colonized country, I am more biased to it being an Anti-Third World text. The story has two settings, the first being in the Thames River, London and the other at the Congo River in Africa. One is the river of the colonizers, wherein Marlow talks about the prestige of the river and the great history beneath it. “It had known and served all the men of whom the nation is proud, from Sir Francis Drake to Sir John Franklin, knights all, titled and untitled – the great knights-errant of the sea. It had borne all the ships whose names are like jewels flashing in the night of time. . . What greatness had not floated on the ebb of that river into the mystery of an unknown earth! . . . The dreams of men, the seed of commonwealths, the germs of empires. (Conrad 7)” On the other hand, Marlow’s description of the river of Africa is darker and compared to that of Thames’, without glory. “There it is before you – smiling, frowning, inviting, grand, mean, insipid, or savage, and always mute with an air of whispering, Come and find out. This one was featureless, as if still in the making, with an aspect of monotonous grimness. The edge of a colossal jungle, so dark-green as to be almost black, fringed with white surf, ran straight, like a ruled line, far, far away along a blue sea whose glitter was blurred by a creeping mist. The sun was fierce, the land seemed to glisten and drip with steam (Conrad 19).” In here, Marlow described the history of Thames while in the other, he described it physically. It seems like the Thames have been a road for the civilized people towards the uncivilized Congo River. The Thames River has been lightened by civilization while the

As Marlow said suddenly of Thames River. because we were travelling in the night of first ages. It was unearthly. The Africans are also not given comprehensible language in the novella. how can you help people you don’t even consider as people? On the other hand. leaving hardly a sign – and no memories. “And this also. with no empathy at all for them. do they consider the people of white skin with clothes that are different from them. that was the worst of it – this suspicion of their not being inhuman (Conrad 51).” How about the Africans. It is said that the colonizers went to the third world to help the people. in their own terms.” At first. “The prehistoric man was cursing us. Showing how the two rivers. The earth seemed unearthly. praying to us. do the Africans have the urge to educate the Europeans who have suddenly come into their territory? The novella doesn’t say. Yet. “Mistah Kurtz – he dead (Conrad 100). but there – there you could look at a thing monstrous and free. They looked at the people of Africa as savages. you know. to civilize them. Yet. in this statement.Congo remains in the darkness of savagery. we glided past like phantoms. they were not inhuman. and the men were – No. Europe seems empathic to the still dark Africa. What about the African people? The novella doesn’t say. We could not understand because we were too far and could not remember. We are accustomed to look upon the shackled form of a conquered monster. Yet. has been one of the dark places of the earth (Conrad 7). the white man’s burden. how Africa and Europe. of those ages that are gone.” One would think the colonizers looked at the Africans as savages and without a language yet. Wouldn’t they also feel that they are the knowledgeable and the Europeans the ones needed to be civilized about the ways of living on . welcoming us – who could tell? We were cut off from the comprehension of our surroundings. are similar. wouldn’t the Africans look at the Europeans as savages too? They who went to their land not knowing the language they speak and the customs they do. humans? The novella doesn’t say. except for a few like the delivery of the dark news. the rivers are not really different from each other. with the descriptions of Marlow of the African wilderness. Well. wondering and secretly appalled. The most apparent reason why this novella is Anti-Third World is its descriptions of the people of Africa. as sane men would be before an enthusiastic outbreak in a madhouse. it seems like the white people forgot that they too were savages before. What they saw was savagery they need to eliminate immediately.

Africa was not given much importance. but the Congo took away something more precious from the colonizers. I think like it would still convey the same feeling. He was not given much importance. If the setting was in another place. was he empowering the narrator? Did he? When until the end the narrator was talking about Marlow’s Buddha stance and he seems nothing but a passenger in the yawl who will follow whatever instructions given unto him? Heart of Darkness was an Anti-Third World text because it shows not the third world but the colonizer. The colonizers went to Africa to rob the treasures of the wilderness. Yet. Africa was not really heard in the story. that which enabled them to be called colonizers.Africa? Why do they claim to be the source of knowledge in the land. in the process. yet. a passive participant who is always all ears to Marlow. It was a setting. If Conrad’s intention was to show how the white conquered the African wilderness. And it seems to me that they say that it is the fault of the so-called savages that the so-called civilized devolved into savages. Most of Heart of Darkness was set in Africa. It concentrated on the decay of the white in the world of the darkness. It seems like the narrator is like Africa or any other colony. When Conrad made the narrator end the story. It took away from them something essential. the novel betrayed itself by showing how the wilderness destroyed the white. even in the story. where Marlow’s adventures took place. in awe of him. in the wilderness they know nothing about? There is nothing empathic of the Europeans here. Do we know anything about the Africans in the story except what the colonizers know? Just as in colonial history. If he intends to show how the journey to Africa led the white to darkness. The Europeans may have taken away the ivory of Congo. the wilderness took the colonizer away from his civilized ways. the feeling of man’s slow destruction of himself. The adventure is told by Marlow. What it portrayed was the suffering of the Europeans. They see themselves as superior and they impose authority. it betrayed itself by showing the way Europe brought horror and darkness to the already dark Africa. it seems like it is also a Third World text for the power it bestowed on the colonized. and it stayed that way. just as history is viewed according to Europe’s point of view. . a white man. Yet. a background. This is apparent with how few the words spoken by the Africans were. It was also that way with the narrator of the story. He was there to tell the story of someone else’s.

" . Heart of Darkness. Joseph. Was it really the savage ways of the Africans that have destroyed Kurtz or is it his greed? Yet. there is purity and innocence to the harshness of the world? Maybe. Larsen. "Third World Literature. this darkness in their heart had led to their demise. I don’t really know because the novella doesn’t really give much importance to the role Africa played.Heart of Darkness. London: Penguin. Print. Neil. it was the Europeans who made their dooms themselves by being greedy and selfish wouldn’t the novella be for the colonized? Wouldn’t it show the innocence of the wilderness and that instead of darkness. it was just in the background. if the portrayal is that. They go to destroy but then in the end. 1994. Works Cited Conrad. what is it? Is it really the African wilderness? Or is it the heart of Europe that had the desire to destroy.

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