In the novel Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, the reader is given a look at Belgium's colonialism, and how grimly corrupt that policy is. Colonialism is a "policy in which a nation maintains or extends its control over foreign dependencies."" (The American Heritage Dictionary, colonialism') Usually a country like Britain would take over a primitive country such as Africa civilize it and make some sort of trade or stimulate mutual economic growth. However, in Heart of Darkness, colonialism detracts from the civility of Africa and adds a brutal element. Conrad uses this inhumane description of colonization to support other themes in the novel. This technique enhances the most prevalent themes in the novel.
The Plot of Heart of Darkness revolves around the trade or removal of ivory from Africa. It becomes more than a trade though; the search for ivory becomes a greedy obsession to all involved. The following quote shows the tainted greed and obsession ivory has brought. .
"The word ivory' rang in the air, was whispered, was sighed. You would think they were praying to it. A taint of imbecile rapacity blew through it all, like a whiff from some corpse.""(HoD, 44).
The way the British wished to rape Africa of its ivory seems to show how disgraceful their system of colonialism was in Conrad's eyes. However, his reason for go in into such detail is to strengthen more prevalent themes. One such theme is darkness. Conrad nearly belabors the idea and tone of darkness in this novel. These constant references to the brutality of colonialism simply are the crux of his topic of darkness. .
Frequently throughout the novel Conrad gives descriptions of the horrible treatment of the Africans. One such passage shows Marlow nonchalantly describing a chain gang, .
"Six black men advancing in a file, toiling up the path. They walked erect and slow, balancing small baskets full of earth on their heads, and the clink kept time with their footsteps I could see every rib, the joints of their limbs were like knots in a rope; each had an iron collar on his neck, and all were connected together with a chain whose bights swung between them, rhythmically clinking.