How Can British Imperialism Be Explained?

A discussion of British imperialism in Africa through Joseph Conran’s Heart of Darkness.

This paper puts forward the argument that the colonial period in Africa was characterized by the arrogance of whites and atrocities committed against blacks. In the colonial period, Africa became the land of opportunity for Europeans who exploited the people and resources for profit. It examines how the author Joseph Conrad was one British citizen who saw through the rhetoric and hypocrisy to the dark heart of the horror of British imperialism. In his novel, Heart of Darkness, he does not hesitate to explore the underlying drive behind imperialistic inhumanity and shows how Africa, known as the dark continent to the colonizers, represents all that the British Empire does not wish to see about itself.
In 1896 King Leopold of Belgium, about to begin building his empire in the Congo, expressed his intention to open to civilization the only part of our globe where Christianity has not penetrated and to pierce the darkness which envelops the entire population. (Hennessy 87) It was also Leopold whose often quoted words made clear that the primitive barbarism of Africans must be replaced by subservience to whites of which the primary consideration was forced labor: They must accustom the population to general laws, of which the most needful and the most salutary is assuredly that of work. ( Hennessey 86) Of course this labor was salutary only to the whites.