The Heart of Darkness

Hochschild goes ahead to give an account of a young trainee steamship officer who was headed to the Congo Basin. This was Joseph Conrad, the author of a famous novel, the Heart of Darkness. One of the most notorious characters in the book is Kurtz, an officer in charge of the inner station.

Kurtz combines pathological cruelty with some interest in art and philosophy. According to Hochschild, even as Conrad had come across a number of characters like Kurtz during his expedition in Congo, the head of the FP, Leon Rom, exposes his clearly identifiable stamp (Hochschild, 1998). This is due to the fact that he had a hedge round his office with chopped off heads on each plank, in addition to a backyard rockery full of decomposing heads.

According to Hochschild, many high school teachers as well as college professors who have examined the Heart of Darkness have a propensity of doing so in terms of Freud, Jung, and Nietzsche. This includes aspects of Victorian innocence, original sin, post modernism, and post culturalism (Hochschild, 1998). Hochschild comments that most of European and American readers who are not at ease with admitting the genocidal atrocities at the turn of the century have thrown reading the book loose from its sequential moorings (Hochschild, 1998).

In many ways, the industrial extent of the executions brought about by colonialism was judged by lobbyists, celebrities and media campaigns. In this regard, King Leopold II spent a huge amount of money bribing editors as well as journalists. He even went as far as publishing his own articles under a counterfeit name. In fact, he formed his own Press Bureau, which was used in publishing his own pamphlets, books, as well as attacks on his political adversaries (Hochschild, 1998).

Hochschild also goes a long way in exploring the activities of those who were in opposition to King Leopold II’s brutality in the Free Congo State. This involves the activities of a radical human rights campaigner, E. D. Morel, who was instrumental in the setting up of the Congo Reform Association (CRA) in the United Kingdom (Hochschild, 1998).



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