Presentations of Africa and Africans in 'Heart of Darkness'

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  • Heart of Darkness - Presentation of Africa and Africans
    • Feminine associations / depiction of females
      • Kurtz's mistress
        • Portrayed as wild
          • "a wild and gorgeous apparition of a woman"
            • Personification - she represents Africa
              • Africa as a woman
                • Underlying sexism shown in the attitudes of the colonisers towards Africa
                  • Disregard for all life already in Africa
                  • Exploitation
                • Mother figure
                  • Nurtures the Africans
                  • "the wilderness without a sound took him into its bosom again"
        • Contrast with Kurtz's intended at home in England
          • She does not fit the European ideal for a woman - shows how Africa doesn't conform to European opinions
            • However, she is still sexualised and used (?) by the colonisers as they view her as exciting - different
      • Africa as a woman
        • Underlying sexism shown in the attitudes of the colonisers towards Africa
          • Disregard for all life already in Africa
          • Exploitation
        • Mother figure
          • Nurtures the Africans
          • "the wilderness without a sound took him into its bosom again"
    • Light and dark imagery
      • Africa is the darkness
        • It is backward and primitive, the colonisers believe they are helping to enlighten people and save them from their dark lives
          • Marlow feels he has journeyed into the 'heart of darkness' - the crossover point between the corruption of the Kurtz and the damage it has done to isolated and primitive Africa
            • The darkness comes from the greed, corruption and capitalism
        • "we penetrated deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness"
      • The colonisers are the darkness
        • They are damaging Africa, exploiting the resources and people
          • They have ruined nature and culture
          • Europe is spreading its darkness to Africa
            • The darkness comes from the greed, corruption and capitalism
            • Darkness is present in London
              • "mournful gloom"
          • Many Africans died at the hands of colonisers
      • Link to the painting which is in the cabin
        • "a woman, draped and blindfolded, carrying a lighted torch"
          • Image of the roman goddess of justice
            • Irony? highlighting the lack of justice in Africa
            • Idea of Africa (the woman) passing judgement on the proceedings
          • The blindfold
            • Europeans are blind to the crimes which are happening
          • Idea that Africa will overcome the darknesss of the colonisers - carrying a torch against the darkness
        • "the background was sombre"
          • refers to the history of colonisation?
    • Prehistoric
      • Seen by the Europeans as undeveloped
        • Desire to 'help' Africa and the people
        • "we were wonderers on a prehistoric earth"
      • View the people as similar to 'early' humans
        • "they still belonged to the beginnings of time"
        • "The prehistoric man"
    • Alien & 'other'
      • Othering
        • Def: View or treat (a person or group of people) as intrinsically different from and alien to oneself.
      • Marlow feels as if he is on another planet
        • "never before did this land … appear to me so hopeless and so dark, so impenetrable to human thought"
          • Marlow can't understand Africa - to him it seems unwelcoming.. surprisingly....
        • "The earth seemed unearthly"
      • Descriptions of Africans which make them seem animalistic / non human
        • "brutes"
          • derogative term, implies stupidity - animalistic

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