Heart of Darkness Blog Question

As we can see, imperialism has caused chaos and insanity throughout the book. In our discussion on Wednesday, we briefly talked about Fresleven and how he was “the gentlest, quietest creature that ever walked on two legs” then he went into a rage and was eventually killed (p. 8). Although he is a minor character in the book, what do you think caused him to change so drastically? Was it his exposure to the “savage” people, was it his lack of supervision? What does this reveal about imperialism or otherness?

3 Replies to “Heart of Darkness Blog Question”

  1. I completely believe that the emphasis on Fresleven death is suppose to showcase how the savage world alters a persons. Using this character puts the emphasis on how drastically changing this world can be. I think his exposure did cause this shift, and think related back to the doctor in Europe that checked out Marlow. This world casques changes to people because it is “the other” world. I think this situation deals with how even the strongest people can be destroyed because of their environment, I also think it shows how powerful the “other” can be. I think it also shows how imperialism can no be beat, because even those that have the power can be destroyed. The other world is one that is nature filled, that can be savage, and that can not be taken. I think that Fresleven’s environment altered him. He became a different beast.

  2. One interesting take I thought of seeing this as is the possibility of Fresleven’s discomfort with technically being an “other.” Going to a continent as large as Africa, he would have been surrounded by a multitude of brand new types of vegetation(nature), animals, etc. and he also would have been a racial other because he would be out numbered. I believe that being surrounded by the savages and having so many eyes on him, seeing him as the other would have made him felt degraded when he should feel powerful over them. This lack of felt power may have caused him to want to strike out against people that were in power like the chief.

  3. I believe that Fresleven was not able to adapt to his new environment which ultimately caused him to die. Fresleven could not keep his sanity because he lost his European identity when he was subjected to the forces of his new surroundings. The chaos and lack of structure lead Fresleven to his death, he was so used to the efficiency that he grew up with that once it was taken away he could no longer live. Lawlessness seems to be plaguing Africa at this point and the job that the Europeans came to do was forgotten and lost. They did not expect the hardships of adapting to their new surroundings and the mental toll it can take. The colonialist didn’t realize that they can not just force their European ways of on to Africa and change it forever. Africa is still Africa, and their culture and their environment are so defined that it can not be simply conquered by colonialist with machines. Africa changes people, the ways of life are extremely different in comparison and the people are different as well. Fresleven could not properly prepare himself because he went into Africa believing he could conquer it and that the environment would be subjected to his will and not the other way around. Fresleven fell into the chaos and the price he paid was his life. He could not keep insight his vision or goals because once he got to Africa the shock of the environment and how things were running was too much for him to bare. When there is nobody to enforce common laws some people lose total control and restraint and that is what I believed happened to Fresleven.

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