Faculty of Arts Department of English
and American Studies English Language and Literature
Sex, Money, Disillusionment, Psychoanalysis: Aspects of Colonialism and Imperialism in Selected Texts by Joseph Conrad and Rudyard Kipling
Master’s Diploma Thesis
Dr. Stephen Paul Hardy, Ph.D.
I declare that I have worked on this thesis independently,
using only the primary and secondary sources listed in the bibliography.
I would sincerely like to thank Dr. Stephen Hardy for all of his assistance, invaluable advice, and endless patience.
Table of Contents
A General Introduction ….……………………...………………………………...…..5
Colonialism, Imperialism and Desire in Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness,” Nostromo and Lord Jim ……………………………………………………….……………………..24
Temptation and Conflict: Colonialism and Imperialism in Kipling’s Kim and “The Man Who Would Be King”……………………………….………………………….64
I. A General Introduction
This thesis endeavours to analyze a number of novels, a novella and a short story by Conrad and Kipling, namely Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness,” Nostromo and Lord Jim, and Kipling’s Kim and “The Man Who Would Be King.” However, a number of references to other Kipling texts are also provided (e.g. the poems “If,” “The Ballad of East and West,” or “Recessional”). As the title suggests, the main objective of this thesis is, within the causal framework of colonialism and imperialism as these two concepts are represented in the texts in question, to investigate aspects of the interplay between sexuality and the sexual instinct and the emphasis on ownership central to the British imperialist and colonialist society of the late 19th and early 20th century.
Put another way, in the context of the selected texts, this thesis intends primarily to explore the ways in which the colonialist and imperialist societies, that intrinsically incorporate, and are based on, possession and ownership, affect the libidinal lives of their members. The desire to accumulate wealth, an essential component of the modern industrialist capital-oriented society, and the sexual desire are treated as a continuum where a cause and an effect can only be identified in ambiguous terms. A typical instance of this continuum is Kurtz. Kurtz, one of the major characters in the novella “Heart of Darkness,” is driven to the Congo by his desire to become wealthy enough so as to be allowed to marry his Intended. His colonialist mission could thus be seen as a result of an unsatisfied sexual desire, his undesirable social status being the primary cause of his voyage to the Congo.
Yet when he reaches the Belgian colony and starts to work there as an ivory-post operator, Kurtz begins to exhibit signs of insanity (megalomania, paranoia etc.). He shortly becomes the most efficient ivory collector (i.e. robber) in the whole of the Congo. However, instead of finding satisfaction, Kurtz commences to be controlled by what Evelyn Cobley, in her Modernism and the Culture of Efficiency: Ideology and Fiction, terms “criminal obsession with efficiency for its own sake” (195). Kurtz’s life undergoes a considerable degree of commodification and alienation in the sense that he becomes a victim of his insatiable quest for possession and ownership. Kurtz seems to forget the reasons why he has come to the Congo in the first place and is instead devoured by the irrational and eventually destructive inclination to hoard still more and more silver.
So far the title of this thesis has only been clarified partially. Although some basic introduction to the analysis of aspects of sex, sexuality, money, possession, ownership and disillusionment has been provided, it still has to be elucidated what role psychoanalysis is supposed to play in a thesis dealing with colonialism and imperialism as represented by Conrad and Kipling. The major reason why psychoanalysis is mentioned in the title of this thesis is that the investigation of the two authors in question is based on perspectives presented in the book To Have or to Be written by Erich Fromm in 1976.
Fromm, a prominent member of the Frankfurt School, a psychologist, psychoanalyst, social scientist, and humanist philosopher was born in 1900 to an orthodox Jewish family as an only child. He initially studied jurisprudence at the University of Frankfurt am Main but shortly moved to the sociological department of the University of Heidelberg where his instructors included a number of notable figures such as Alfred Weber, a brother of the famous sociologist Max Weber, Karl Jaspers or the Neo-Kantian philosopher Heinrich Rickert. In 1927, Fromm opened his own clinical practice and three years later, as a fully trained psychoanalyst, joined the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research.
Shortly after the Nazi takeover in 1933 Fromm fled to Geneva and, a year later, to New York City where he started to lecture at Columbia University. In the United States, Fromm established, or helped establish, a number of scientific and scholarly institutions (e.g. the New York branch of the Washington School of Psychiatry or the William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis, and Psychology). In the late 1940s Fromm relocated to Mexico City where he lived for over two decades. Finally, in 1974 he left America for Switzerland where he died six years after (this basic biographical information on Fromm comes primarily from the Erich Fromm entries on wikipedia and Encyclopaedia Britannica).
Aside from holding a number of scholarly and scientific positions at various universities and institutes throughout the world, Fromm had his own psychological and psychiatric clinical practice where he treated such conditions as depression, paranoia, insomnia and others. Frequently, maintains Fromm throughout his To Have or to Be, these illnesses were not exclusively caused by tangible neuropathological changes in the brains of the patients but rather by non-medical factors such as the socio-cultural conditions under which these individuals had to live. These conditions mostly refer to the frustration and the sense of inferiority that, Fromm argues, are inherent to the industrial age. In his To Have or to Be and elsewhere Fromm seeks to analyze the reasons why the industrial age, rather than happiness and satisfaction, eventually begets frustration and disappointment, phenomena that psychiatrists and psychologists like Fromm seem regularly to deal with: “The Great Promise of Unlimited Progress,” argues Fromm at the very beginning of To Have or to Be,
The promise of domination of nature, of material abundance, of the greatest happiness for the greatest number, and of unimpeded personal freedom – has sustained the hopes and faith of the generations since the beginning of the industrial age. To be sure, our civilization began when the human race started taking active control of nature; but that control remained limited until the advent of the industrial age. With industrial progress…we could feel that we were on our way to unlimited production and, hence, unlimited consumption; that technique made us omnipotent; that science made us omniscient. We were on our way to becoming gods, supreme beings who could create a second world, using the natural world only as building blocks for our new creation. (11)
For details of how exactly this Great Promise, to use Fromm’s term, fails the reader is referred to the following two chapters. The same applies to aspects of the difference between having and being, as illustrated by Fromm, and its relevance and applicability to the analysis of Conrad and Kipling.
A relevant question that could be asked in relation to Fromm is how the 1970s book To Have or to Be, and more generally the ideas presented by the Frankfurt School, relate to the study of Conrad and Kipling. The aim of this thesis – and particularly the second chapter – is to demonstrate that Conrad can be viewed as one of the late 19th and early 20th century authors whose literature presents ideas that can be seen as similar to those advocated by the members of the Frankfurt School (scepticism and relativity of scientific progress, frustration about, and critique of, capitalism etc.). In addition, focusing on the selected texts by the two authors in question, the analysis provided in the following two chapters endeavours to delineate links between the late 19th and early 20th century colonialism and imperialism, and modern post-war capitalism that Fromm criticizes and subverts throughout his oeuvre.
In Chapter II, a loose comparative analysis of Conrad’s works (primarily “Heart of Darkness”) and Francis Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby is provided. This detour probably needs some clarification as well. In his famous novel, that apparently needs little introduction, Fitzgerald portrays the ruthlessness of capitalism in the 1920s Jazz Age, greed and the ultimate commodification of all aspects of existence. The novel abounds with depictions of class struggle (represented, for example, by Gatsby’s mostly successful attempt to become rich and thus attractive to his beloved Daisy) and its effects (in the valley of ashes, an unhealthy polluted area created by industrial ashes – in fact a dump – live, one could argue, as a human garbage, those individuals who are unable to become affluent).
The major reason why Fitzgerald’s masterpiece is included in a thesis that investigates Conrad and Kipling is to suggest both the explicit and implicit connections between the British colonialism and imperialism (mostly associated with the late 19th and early 20th century), and Conrad’s depiction of the two, on the one hand and global (i.e. including American) capitalism of the last about 130 years. Focusing on the three texts by Conrad, the analysis provides references to The Great Gatsby in order to illustrate that colonialism/imperialism and capitalism may in fact be perceived as mutually interconnected and, to some extent, reciprocal. To elucidate, in his Capital, Karl Marx argues – the following statement is a simplified paraphrase – that while colonialism may be seen as a form of international capitalism, capitalism could be viewed as a form of local colonialism. Also, argues Marx, it is the colonial expansion that allowed (not only) the European countries like England to establish what is generally referred to as the capitalist mode of production:
The discovery of gold and silver in America, the extirpation, enslavement and entombment in mines of the indigenous population of that continent, the beginnings of the conquest and plunder of India, and the conversion of Africa into a preserve for the commercial hunting of blackskins, are all things that characterize the dawn of the era of capitalist production. These idyllic proceedings are the chief moments of primitive accumulation. Hard on their heels follows the commercial war of the European nations, which has the globe as its battlefield. (Marx 807)
The following lines attempt to place Marx’s assumption in the context of the analyzed texts. In “Heart of Darkness” Conrad provides an explicit portrayal of the European powers usurping and accumulating wealth (i.e. ivory) which is then to be shipped back to England, Belgium and so on. This accumulation in turn enables technological and monetary progress of the colonizers; England is thus allowed to manufacture – and, importantly, create, or invest in creating, means of manufacture such as factories, docks and so on – still more boats, weapons, finance expensive expeditions etc. As Marx suggests, colonialism can therefore be seen as a form of international capitalism in the sense that it is only due to the possession of capital that the colonialist missions can be executed. Without the ability or means to produce e.g. a steel steamboat or efficient firearms the colonizers (Kurtz, Marlow and others) would, one could presume, face much difficulty in resisting the Congolese militia and, as a result, the overall efficiency of their colonialist exploits would diminish dramatically.
In Nostromo, the few (mostly) English settlers in the town of Sulaco, an economic hub of the fictitious country of Costaguana, are only able to perpetuate both their existence and the subjugation of the locals due to their economic and technological edge over the natives – Don Jose, one of the minor characters in the novel, is in charge of The Patriotic Committee, a committee “which had armed a great proportion of troops in the Sulaco command with an improved model of a military rifle. It had been just discarded for something still more deadly by one of the great European powers” (Conrad 1983:158).
In addition, one could argue that Conrad depicts colonialism in Marxian terms, i.e. as an instance of an international dissemination of capital, in that he makes Charles Gould, a silver mogul and a prominent figure of the whole of Costaguana, dependent financially upon the Holroyd House, a San Francisco financial institution. It is only due to the funds coming from the Holroyd House that Gould is able both to resist the local revolutionary forces and continue the operation of the silver mine. The assets invested in Costaguana by the Holroyd House are then immediately exchanged for silver which is then shipped to San Francisco by The O.S.N. Company. In Nostromo, Conrad could thus be seen as depicting the rather precarious synergy between colonialism supported by international capitalism on the one hand and accumulation of capital on the other.
To be sure, the traditional form of colonialism is absent in Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Neither of the characters in the novel are seamen who travel to distant lands (the traditional depiction of colonialism in the late 19th and early 20th century represented by e.g. Conrad); nor does the reader encounter any of the traditional or stereotypical images of the unexplored tropical lands such as cannibalism, virtually mystical creatures speaking a seemingly inarticulate language and so on (this depiction of distant lands is more typical of the early colonialist period and is represented in literature by works such as Robinson Crusoe).
The novel, it could be argued, is not entirely devoid of any portrayal of colonialism, nevertheless. To reiterate the Marxian point of view, the capitalist exploitation that is central to Fitzgerald’s novel is not quite dissimilar from the exploitation inherent to the traditional form of colonialism. In other words, a parallel could be drawn between the way the inhabitants of the aforementioned valley of ashes are colonized (and exploited) and the way the African natives are exploited in e.g. “Heart of Darkness” since neither of the two are allowed to disengage from the socio-political system that oppresses them (the same remark may be relevant to the native Costaguaneros in the time of Gould’s predecessors). While Conrad thus mostly pictures colonialism as a form of international dissemination of capital, one could argue that Fitzgerald in some respects depicts capitalism as a form of local colonialism.
A few words may now be said about the structure of this thesis. It is divided into four separate chapters, namely “A General Introduction;” “Colonialism, Imperialism and Desire in Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness,” Nostromo and Lord Jim;” “Temptation and Conflict: Colonialism and Imperialism in Kipling’s Kim and “The Man Who Would Be King”;” and “Conclusion.” The following paragraphs seek to introduce each of these chapters, presenting some of the major subject matters upon which the investigation centres. Prior to this introduction, however, brief summaries of some of the Conrad and Kipling texts are provided. This pertains to Nostromo, Lord Jim, Kim and “The Man Who Would Be King” (Conrad’s novella “Heart of Darkness” presumably requires little introduction since it could be regarded as one of the key and most frequently prescribed texts that are analyzed within the post-colonial theory).
As has been said earlier, Nostromo is a novel set in the fictitious country of Costaguana which, however, greatly resembles Colombia. This country has long been under the sway of revolutions, warfare, corruption and self-appointed and self-serving rulers/tyrants. Crucial both to Costaguana and the plot of Conrad’s novel is The San Tome silver mine owned by Charles Gould, a native Costaguanero of English descent. Gould, whose business suffers from the seemingly endless civil strife and chaos, supports financially and politically a new government formed by Ribiera. Ribiera, Gould believes, has the potential to finally put an end to the debilitating and apparently unending pandemonium affecting Costaguana for decades.
Shortly after Ribiera comes into power it becomes clear, however, that Costaguana has to brace for yet another round of clashes and political instability. One of the revolutionaries, Montero, even marches into the town of Sulaco, the economic, political and cultural hub of the country. He is only prevented from conquering it and thus expelling the foreign settlers by Nostromo’s remarkable abilities and ingenuity. Nostromo, though a mere sailor, (the name could be translated from archaic Italian into English – Nostromo is an Italian expatriate – as “shipmate” or “bosun”) is one of the central characters who shape dramatically both the plot of the novel and the socio-political milieu of Costaguana. Nostromo also functions as a symbol of incorruptibility that is contrasted to the omnipresent corruption and chaos.
Towards the ending of the novel Nostromo’s halo of incorruptibility, so to speak, proves to be merely seeming, nonetheless – feeling unsatisfied due to a lack of respect and recognition, Nostromo steals a box of silver that he is entrusted to transfer from the revolution-struck Sulaco, claiming it has been lost in an accident. In so doing, Nostromo betrays both his reputation and partners, degrading all his previous exploits into the ultimate representation of the destructiveness and hollowness of wealth and illusions. In an introduction to the novel, Martin Seymour-Smith argues that “no writer, perhaps, demonstrates the spiritual emptiness of modern politics and politicians more effectively than Conrad, and those who despair of contemporary political arrangements have one of their most powerful arguments in the form of his fiction – and in no single work better than Nostromo” (Conrad 1983:8).
Lord Jim is a novel depicting the victories and failures of a young English seaman, Jim. At the beginning of the novel, Jim, a first mate on an old and derelict boat called the Patna, is responsible for a cargo of eight hundred Muslim pilgrims journeying to Mecca for the hadj. When in the open seas, the Patna runs into floating debris and is severely damaged. When it is clear to the crew that the ship must imminently sink, they abandon it, leaving the passengers at the mercy of the sea. Surprisingly, the Patna eventually does not sink, nevertheless, disclosing the cowardice of the crew. As the first mate, Jim is held primarily responsible for the act. Having lost his certificate by a decision of the court, Jim travels, attempting to avoid shame and ridicule, further east until he reaches a remote area of the island of Borneo, Patusan.
In Patusan, Jim encounters Stein, an entomologist and a former trade-post operator. Hoping his troubled past will remain hidden, Jim settles in Patusan. His exploits – Jim liberates the local Bugis people from Sherif Ali, a bandit who regularly pillages the area, and Tunku Allang, a corrupt Malay chief – win him both the respect of the locals and the title Tuan (Lord). Jim thus starts to feel satisfied and his Patna spell seems to be broken. The provisional happy ending, however, is interrupted by an attack of' Gentleman Brown, a white pirate, and his gang. Attempting to loot Patusan and obtain resources necessary for his intended journey to Madagascar, Brown attacks the Bugis people, killing Dain Warris, a son of a local chief Doramin. Feeling responsible for Warris’ death and unable to defend 'his' people, Jim commits an ostentatious suicide by letting Doramin shoot him in the chest.
Those texts by Conrad and Kipling that this thesis investigates, perhaps with the exception of Nostromo, are narratives whose major theme, one may argue, is journey. In “Heart of Darkness,” Marlow travels up the Congo River the meet Kurtz, in Lord Jim the eponymous character travels as far east as he can in order to escape the opprobrium caused by the Patna incident. Set in the late 19th century India under the British Raj, Kipling’s Kim seems to be similar in many respects: Kim, “a white boy…who is not a white boy” (Kipling 1994:136), is an orphaned child of Irish parents who died in poverty. Living a life of a vagabond, Kim either does menial work for a local horse-dealer Mahbub Ali or begs in the streets of Lahore. One day, Kim acquaints himself with a Tibetan Lama searching for redemption from what he calls the Wheel of Things (mundane troubles of everyday life and corporeal suffering). Soon afterwards, Kim becomes the lama’s “chela” or disciple.
While accompanying the lama on his journey, Kim, due to his ability to disguise himself and pass both for a native and a white, is recruited into the Great Game, a British secret service scheme whose aim is to prevent Russian infiltrators from inciting a rebellion in one of the northern provinces. Kim is subsequently mistaken for a Mason and receives a high-class education at St. Xavier’s. Although Kim seems initially to be enthusiastic about his chance to become a sahib, he soon discovers the socio-political and cultural undertones of such education. Kim learns that the major aim of an institution such as St. Xavier’s is to 'teach' young men how to become loyal and efficient servants of the Raj government (“St Xavier's looks down on boys who 'go native all-together.' One must never forget that one is a Sahib, and that some day, when examinations are passed, one will command natives. Kim made a note of this, for he began to understand where examinations led” (Kipling 1994:188)).
After Kim finishes his three-year study at St.Xavier’s, the novel shifts into what may be in some respects referred to as an adventure story. Kim reunites with the lama and both make a trip to the Punjab Himalayas. Surprisingly enough, they incidentally encounter and clash with the Russian agents from whom they obtain plans, maps and other articles demonstrating their subversive activities. It has to be said that as opposed to the aforementioned texts by Conrad, Kipling’s Kim ends in what could be termed an open happy ending. The lama eventually discovers his healing river that frees him from the Wheel of Things, the Russian attempts to destabilize the Raj government are unsuccessful. As far as Kim is concerned, he experiences some degree of dissatisfaction and disillusionment since his identity crisis is far from solved – “Thou hast said there is neither black nor white,” tells Kim the lama early in Chapter XV. “Why plague me with this talk, Holy One? Let me rub the other foot. It vexes me. I am not a sahib. I am thy chela, and my head is heavy on my shoulders” (Kipling 1994:358). This dissatisfaction, however, is, one could argue, incomparably less tormenting than that experienced by Conrad’s characters such as Jim.
Kipling’s short story “The Man Who Would Be King” is the last of the primary texts whose plot is introduced here. A frame narrative, the story portrays the feats of the two adventurers, Daniel Dravot and Peachey Carnehan, who aspire to become kings of Kafiristan, a remote area in what is now the Nuristan province of Afghanistan. Equipped by twenty top-notch Martini-Henry rifles, Dravot and Carnehan intend to use their technological advance to help the local rulers beat their enemies and subsequently win the crown for themselves. Initially, they are fairly successful. The Kafirs greatly respect the two, particularly Dravot whom they acclaim as the son of Alexander the Great. As in Kim where the eponymous character is allowed to attend the St. Xavier’s since he supposedly wears a Masonic amulet on his neck,the theme of Freemasonry plays a major part in “The Man Who Would Be King” as well. In fact, one of the reasons why Dravot, a Mason, wins such an extraordinary amount of reverence from the Kafirs is that he seems to be familiar with one of the rituals that the local shamans perform (this ritual is coincidentally strikingly similar to a secret Masonic ritual).
A turning point in the short story occurs when Dravot decides to break a contract he has closed with Carnehan and marry a local girl (in an attempt to secure the success of their colonialist mission to Kafiristan, Dravot and Carnehan sign a contract, a part of which is a pledge that neither of the two shall ever start a relationship with a woman (“Neither Women nor Liquor” (Kipling 2003:12)). When Dravot is intimate with the girl, she bites him. Dravot starts to bleed and thus discloses his mortal status. The local shamans subsequently start to vociferate “Neither god nor devil, but a man” (Kipling 2003:39). Realizing they have been fooled from the beginning, the Kafirs kill Dravot by letting him fall into an abyss, and attempt to kill Carnehan by crucifying him. Since the latter survives for a day, the Kafirs, considering this miraculous, eventually free him. To convince the narrator – as has been suggested earlier, the short story is a frame narrative – that his tale is not fictitious, Carnehan shows him Dravot’s head still wearing the crown of the ruler of Kafiristan.
Since the texts that are analyzed in this thesis have already been introduced, synopses of the four chapters may now ensue. The first chapter, “A General Introduction,” presents some of the main objects of analysis, introduces all the primary and a number of secondary sources, and acquaints the reader with the structure of the thesis. Moreover, it seeks to clarify some of the concepts, and their interconnections, that are presented in the chapters to follow. These include primarily aspects of the mutual relatedness between colonialism/imperialism and capitalism (this relatedness is addressed, among others, in the loose comparative analysis of texts by Conrad and Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby) and the applicability, and relevance, of psychoanalysis for an investigation of literature that deals with colonialism and imperialism (in this case, Conrad and Kipling).
The second chapter, titled “Colonialism, Imperialism and Desire in Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness,” Nostromo and Lord Jim,” seeks to address the ways in which colonialism and imperialism are represented, subverted or affirmed in the aforementioned texts by Conrad. Drawing primarily on Edward Said’s Culture and Imperialism, Margaret Kohn’s essay “Colonialism,” and Patrick Wolfe’s “Settler Colonialism and the Elimination of the Native,” the second chapter endeavours to provide some sort of a theoretical background to the study of colonialism and imperialism. The two phenomena are thus defined, compared and contrasted with respect to historical, political and etymological circumstances. Colonialism is subsequently divided into exploitation colonialism and settler colonialism, the former referring to such colonialist practices that are directed towards exploiting both the local population and the local resources, the latter referring to such acts that lead to the establishment of a colony and the extermination of the local population so that a new society, emulating the metropole, can be implanted on a new territory.
Furthermore, the second chapter seeks to demonstrate the complexity of colonialism and imperialism, arguing both that no clear-cut boundaries between the two can be identified and that the two social phenomena should not merely be seen as geopolitical or sociological agents. Instead, it is argued therein that colonialism and imperialism may be perceived as extraordinarily complex phenomena that influence not only the political or economic structure of a country but also, in the extreme case, eating habits (the global expansion of companies such as McDonald’s or KFC can in some respects be seen as an act of cultural imperialism) or the visual aspects of male genitalia (heavily influenced by the American military intervention, the South Koreans commenced, in the early 1950s, for one reason or another, to perform routine circumcision, in the course of less than a decade transforming South Korea from a country where circumcision was virtually non-existent to a country where the procedure was nearly universal (according to the WHO, the prevalence of male circumcision in South Korea was 80-100% as of 2006)).
The introduction of this topic probably needs some clarification with regard to its seeming irrelevance to the investigation of Conrad and Kipling. As has been said earlier, the second chapter of this thesis provides, aside from analyses of the texts in question, theoretical background for the study of colonialism and imperialism. One of the central issues that this theoretical part addresses is the question of power relations. These are, it is argued therein, strikingly complex as a result of which one cannot easily discriminate the dominating and the dominated or the oppressors and the oppressed (be it a nation, an ethnic group, a political party and so on). The author maintains that similar power relations that supposedly were at play in the 1950s Korea could, in a sense, be comparable to those power relations that may be identified in e.g. Nostromo – although the introduction of circumcision to South Korea by the Americans in the 1950s cannot as such be seen as an act of what could be called armed imperialism (the Koreans were not forced to introduce the procedure into their culture), it could be argued – evidence is provided later in Chapter II – that the American military intervention to South Korea was imperialist in the first place, one that cannot be interpreted as an egalitarian synergy between two equal nations.
In Nostromo, it is true that Gould’s workers in some respects admire both their master and the enterprise he administers – “They [the miners] were proud of, and attached to, the mine. It had secured their confidence and belief. They invested in it with a protecting and invincible virtue as though it were a fetish made by their own hands” (Conrad 1983:336). However, having in mind the overall instability of Costaguana (including, one could presume, the absence of an efficient labour market), it should be added that the workers do not seem to have an alternative. It is pretended that they perceive their positions as miners in enthusiastic terms yet they in fact seem to realize that, once the mine ceases to operate, they must inevitably lose theirs jobs. They thus do not appear to be forced to work for Gould as proverbial slaves – efficient mining methods, notes Conrad a number of times make it possible for Gould to mine silver faster without having to exploit the workers as ruthlessly as before when the mine was operated “mostly by means of lashes on the backs of slaves” (Conrad 1983:75) – neither does Gould, like the Americans in South Korea, use brute force to subjugate them. At the same time, however, for reasons provided later in Chapter II, one cannot see the relationship between the miners and Gould in egalitarian terms.
Furthermore, the second chapter seeks to compare and contrast the three Conrad texts in question with regard to aspects of the theme of desire (both sexual and non-sexual) within the context of colonialism and imperialism. To be more precise, it investigates, among others, aspects of what Stephen Ross, in his Conrad and Empire, a work wherein Conrad is interpreted as an author prophesying the end of the nation-state and the emergence of virtually omnipotent multi-national corporations, terms“the impingement of imperial economic imperatives into the libidinal life of the subject” (42). Put another way, one of the aims of the second chapter is to address the interplay between sexual desire and the desire to accumulate wealth with respect to the selected characters from the aforementioned texts.
Rather than carrying out a mere textual commentary, the analysis provided in the second chapter is theme-based, focusing on similarities and interconnections among a number of characters, primarily Kurtz (“Heart of Darkness”), Charles Gould (Nostromo), Martin Decoud (Nostromo), Jim (Lord Jim) and Stein (Lord Jim). The second chapter also investigates the development of the central characters in question, attempting to analyze what can be inferred from this development about imperialism and colonialism as such.
Moreover, the whole thesis takes into consideration the notion of contrapuntal reading, proposed by Edward Said in his Culture and Imperialism, and demonstrates in what ways this notion can be useful and perhaps even necessary while investigating a piece of literature that deals with the interaction between a number of different societies, cultures etc. The textual analysis of Conrad and Kipling, that is provided in this thesis, seeks to be comparably contrapuntal, i.e. one that takes into consideration “what is involved when an author shows, for instance, that a colonial sugar plantation is seen as important to the process of maintaining a particular style of life in England” (Said 9). To elucidate the notion, “contrapuntal reading must take account of both processes, that of imperialism and that of resistance to it, which can be done by extending our reading of the texts to include what was once forcibly excluded” (Said 9). If a reader intends to read a text contrapuntally they have to do so with an “awareness both of the metropolitan history that is narrated and of those other histories against which (and together with which) the dominating discourse acts” (Said 50). Another essential feature of contrapuntal analysis is the awareness that what is silenced in a text can in fact be equally important, or more important, than what is said.
The relevance and importance of the contrapuntal perspective for the study of texts dealing with colonialism and imperialism are demonstrated throughout this thesis. As far as the second chapter is concerned, the primary objects of the contrapuntal analysis are the San Tome mine in Nostromo, the interaction between Jim and the natives of Patusan in Lord Jim and aspects of the Kurtz character in “Heart of Darkness.” In addition, the second chapter seeks to analyze the ways in which Conrad gives voice to, or silences, the Other (i.e. the natives from the colonies) as well as to what extent it is true or untrue that the non-European countries are perceived by Conrad as a mere “metaphysical battlefield devoid of all recognizable humanity, into which the European enters at his own peril.” This quotation comes from Chinua Achebe’s 1975 lecture given at the University of Massachusetts. The lecture, titled “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness,” addresses Conrad’s apparent treatment of the Africans as inherently inferior beings without language or human expression. Conrad, argues Achebe further on, depicts Africa as a mere “foil to Europe, as a place of negations at once remote and vaguely familiar, in comparison with which Europe’s own state of spiritual grace will be manifest.”
The third chapter, titled “Temptation and Conflict: Colonialism and Imperialism in Kipling’s Kim and “The Man Who Would Be King,” elaborates on some of the aspects of the interplay between sexual desire and the desire to amass wealth. Yet as opposed to the second chapter, this is done from what could be referred to as an evolutionary perspective. The object of the analysis is the ways in which Kipling portrays what Erich Fromm in his To Have or to Be terms “the ever-decreasing determination of behaviour by instincts” (136): in an attempt to secure the success of their colonialist mission to Kafiristan, Dravot and Carnehan sign a contract, a part of which is a pledge that neither of the two shall ever start a relationship with a woman (“Neither Women nor Liquor” (Kipling 2003:12)). Their sexual instinct is thus to be seen as consciously suppressed, which, the protagonists believe, is a necessary sacrifice that they both have to make before they commence their journey to Kafiristian where, presumes Dravot, “we are going…to be Kings” (Kipling 2003:12).
In addition, drawing on John Kucich’s Imperial Masochism: British Fiction, Fantasy, and Social Class, an elaborately written book discussing aspects of the interplay between the imperialist expansion and (sexual) masochism, that is portrayed as a means of building and maintaining the empire, the third chapter addressed the ways in which self-denial, forced celibacy and, if the notion is taken to its extreme, suicide function as vehicles that not only help maintain the empire overseas but also help create what may be called the imperialist attitude (i.e. a public consent with the imperialist expansion, ethical justification of the empire and so on).
The third chapter of this thesis further attempts to compare and contrast Conrad and Kipling with regard to those themes that the two authors seem both to be concerned with. These include desire/temptation; idealism/false expectations; and what Ross terms “the impingement of imperial economic imperatives into the libidinal life of the subject” (42). The aim is, among others, to argue that, while Conrad and Kipling seem in many respects different, they may not justifiably be perceived as one contradicting the other (in his The Mythology of Imperialism, Jonah Raskin claims that “Conrad and Kipling are fundamentally dissimilar…Kipling was an imperialist. Conrad was an anti-imperialist” (55). One of the aims of the third chapter is thus to argue against this assumption, suggesting that despite a number of differences, both authors may in many respects be seen as fairly similar and, perhaps, even comparable).
Moreover, the third chapter of this thesis addresses linguistic aspects of Kipling’s texts, focusing primarily on the postcolonial notions of abrogation and appropriation. Although the analysis of various aspects of language centres upon Kipling and his Kim, other sources, including those written by Conrad, are considered as well. In her article “Postcolonial Studies: Language,” Jennifer Margulis demonstrates the supreme relevance of language in analysing texts dealing with colonialism and imperialism as follows:
Language is often a central question in postcolonial studies. During colonization, colonizers usually imposed or encouraged the dominance of their native language onto the peoples they colonized, even forbidding natives to speak their mother tongues. Many writers educated under colonization recount how students were demoted, humiliated, or even beaten for speaking their native language in colonial schools. In response to the systematic imposition of colonial languages, some postcolonial writers and activists advocate a complete return to the use of indigenous languages. Others see the language (e.g. English) imposed by the colonizer as a more practical alternative, using the colonial language both to enhance inter-nation communication…and to counter a colonial past through de-forming a “standard” European tongue and re-forming it in new literary forms. (1)
This deformation and reformation of the master tongue seem roughly to coincide with the notions of abrogation and appropriation. These notions are discussed in considerable detail in the postcolonial book The Empire Writes Back authored by Ashcroft, Griffiths and Tiffin. Therein, a radical rejection of the Eurocentric perception of language and literature is provided by Ashcroft et al. and the notions of abrogation and appropriation are elucidated, the former referring to “a refusal of the categories of the imperial culture, its aesthetic, its illusory standard of normative or “correct” usage, and its assumption of a traditional and fixed meaning “inscribed” in the words” (38), the latter referring to “the process by which the language is made to “bear the burden” of one’s own cultural experience…Language is adopted as a tool and utilized to express widely differing cultural experiences” (38-39).
The final chapter of this thesis, titled “Conclusion,” briefly summarizes the major concepts investigated, providing some additional information that is not included in the foregoing chapters on account of coherence and cohesion. In addition, it seeks to emphasize the diachronic relevance of the study of colonialism and imperialism and, more specifically, Conrad and Kipling (that is, what can be inferred from some of the critical events in the texts in question, or the development of their characters, about the long-term and short-term effects of colonialism and imperialism). In so doing, the hermeneutical complexity of the two phenomena is re-demonstrated.