European colonists called themselves civilized people, whose purpose of colonizing Africa was to make “barbaric” Africans became civilized. But if there is no difference between the behavior of “civilized” European colonists and “barbarians”, can they still be called civilized colonists? The essay would indicate three aspects of the scene which are the natural environment，the word “incomprehensible” and Marlow’s words“he called them enemies!” how to associated with colonialism.
The muzzles of the long six-inch guns stuck out all over the low hull; the greasy, slimy swell swung her up lazily and let her down, swaying her thin masts. In the empty immensity of earth, sky, and water, there she was, incomprehensible, firing into a continent. Pop, would go one of the six-inch guns; a small flame would dart and vanish, a little white smoke would disappear, a tiny projectile would give a feeble screech—and nothing happened. Nothing could happen. There was a touch of insanity in the proceeding, a sense of lugubrious drollery in the sight; and it was not dissipated by somebody on board assuring me earnestly there was a camp of natives—he called them enemies!— hidden out of sight somewhere.(20)
Samet Guven indicated a viewpoint that is “Conrad also shows how a civilized man turns into a savage when the profits are taken into consideration. His novel reflects the realities of the world in the 19th century, that is, the Europeans regard Africans as primitive and immature to colonize them.”Heart of Darkness shows that the European colonizers used the high ideals of colonization as a cover to help them to viciously plunder wealth and casually kill Africans.
Marlow sees a warship firing randomly into the continent where maybe there is nobody. The malevolent faces of the European colonists are exposed through Marlow’s account of this incredible attack. “In the empty immensity of earth, sky, and water, there she was, incomprehensible, firing into a continent.” Marlow sees the natural environment which has the sky, the water, and the earth are silent that contrast with gunfire. And the gunfire is discordant sound which breaks what was supposed to be the quiet home of the African. Furthermore，“low hull,” “thin masts” contrast with the empty immensity of the surrounding environment to show European colonizers who are just a small part of nature not only casually kill Africans but also break the silence of environment. European colonizers pretend to be colonialists who had lofty colonial ideals but they are doing what barbarians do。
“Incomprehensible”is used by Conrad to indicate the ridiculous things of the European colonialist. The word does not explain the practical facts or opinions that Marlow sees , but rather indicates that Marlow cannot explain the phenomena what he sees. In other words, Marlow’s idea of colonialists is that they are civilized people, who are mainly for their own interests, but they will bring civilization to the African colonies. At least Marlow does not think that the colonists are also barbarians. So he is shocked by the barbarism of the European colonists after he saw these what is called “civilized” people firing randomly into the continent. Conrad explained that the European colonists not only robbed the African’s property, but also destroyed their lives and revealed the dark hearts of the colonists through Marlow’s narration。Meanwhile, Conrad points out that the absurd behavior of the colonists is an act of destroying the nature by comparing the description of the ships and guns of the European colonists with the huge natural environment.
Furthermore, at the end of the passage, Marlow says“ it was not dissipated by somebody on board assuring me earnestly there was a camp of natives—he called them enemies!— hidden out of sight somewhere.” Marlow cannot understand why the men on the ship are firing into the continent , which seemed to be deserted. He asked almost everyone on the ship， and no one can explain to him. This scene reflects that when the European colonists are shooting, they had no clear target or idea, but they just attacked tentatively. It also reflects the aimlessness even bewilderment of European colonial life in Africa, as they have been swallowed up by the power of the jungle. Thus, the European colonists, who has been swallowed up by the power of the jungle had become barbarians, which only wanted to plunder the wealth with the power of barbarism. They do not care about the value of life, as their nature of civilization has been replaced by greed.
In summary, Conrad reveals that the Europeans pretended to be colonialists not only pillaging the land and wealth of Africans, but also killing them with violence and cruelty. At the same time, Conrad also writes about the cruel human nature of the colonialists, the hope that the great greed will eventually be defeated by the mysterious forces of nature. Europeans claimed to want to “civilize” the African continent, their actions spoke otherwise: they were interested solely in gaining wealth and did not care how they did it, or who was killed. The European colonists are no longer “civilized” because their own civilization had been defeated by the power of the jungle, which means greed. They pretend to be colonists but treated Africans cruelly, so they were not real colonists but “savage” people completely occupied by desire.
1.Post-Colonial Analysis of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darknesskutaksam.karabuk.edu.tr ›