“Colonial Discourse” Essay

Traditionally, the term ‘colonial discourse’ is associated with the epoch of colonialism when Great Britain as well as many other European countries attempted to establish their control over less developed countries of the world, especially in Africa, Asia and America. In the result of the colonization, the entire world had changed dramatically and such a notion as ‘colonial discourse’ naturally appeared. Basically, this term is applied to the works dedicated to the problem of colonialism and its effects on both colonizers and colonized. In this respect, it is worthy of mention that many literary works perfectly reveals the essence of colonial discourse conveying the dramatic changes that occurred on the international as well as local level in the result of colonization. Among these works, it is possible to name “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad and “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe.

First of all, it should be said that both books reveal the essence of colonialism and its negative impact on people. Speaking about “Heart of Darkness”, it should be pointed out that the word ‘darkness’ in the title is very symbolic since it implies that the period of European colonization and its consequences are really negative. In fact, darkness is traditionally associated with some evil power and European colonizers turned to be a real personification of freedom as Conrad depicts it. It is worth noting that the narration by Conrad is quite realistic and true to life.

The author perfectly creates the realistic image of the life in colonized Africa. In such a way, he actually creates a colonial discourse. Conrad underlines that Europeans that practically occupied African continent treated the local population as second-class citizens, whose inferiority proved to be beyond a doubt for colonizers. In stark contrast, Europeans practically played gods while they were in Africa. In this respect, it is worthy of mention the main character of the book, Hurtz, who is a real tyrant terrorizing and oppressing the local population and remaining ‘civilized’ with Europeans (Conrad 305). In such a way, this particular colonial discourse perfectly conveys the cruelty and hypocrisy of European colonizers and total oppression of local population.

“Thins Fall Appart” by Chinua Achebe, enlarges the colonial discourse since, unlike traditional European or western view on colonization, which was promoted by such writers as Conrad, Chinua Achebe attempts to show the other side of the colonization. To put it more precisely, the author perfectly depicts that the local population has a unique culture, which cannot be really understood by Europeans or even may be prejudiced by colonizers. For instance, the killing if Ikemfuna by Okonkwo because of the prediction of the oracle, is unimaginable to Europeans (Achebe 217). Nevertheless, such details prove the fact that African people had unique culture but their level of development was extremely low compared to Europeans that actually resulted in colonization which destroyed the local traditions and culture and either ‘westernized’ or, what was widely spread, dehumanized the local population.

In such a way, the colonial discourse implies the profound analysis of the policy of colonialism and its effects on both colonizers and colonized. It is necessary to underline that colonization did not simply destroyed the culture and traditions of the colonized population but it also resulted in physical destruction and total oppression of the local population. At the same time colonization produced a negative impact on colonizers as well depriving them of basic humanist values they lost in colonies because of their unlimited power and technological superiority compared to the local population.

Works cited

  • Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. New York: Norton, 1993.
  • Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1992.