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Read a draft of an essay, "Two Critiques of Imperialism," that...

Read a draft of an essay, "Two Critiques of Imperialism," that examines the treatment of colonialism in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness and Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels. Revise the essay to make it clearer and more persuasive. Try to make the use of rhetorical devices more effective, the tone more consistent, and the transitions more organized.


ESSAY FOR REVISION

Two Critiques of Imperialism

Reading dead guys' opinions about imperialism is awesome! They have all the answers, and they can tell us everything we need to know about why imperialism was bad! I mean, I'm kidding. Obviously we need to consider the opinions of minorities too, but this assignment is only about Swift and Conrad. And I guess they did have some O.K. things to say. Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels makes English values seem stupid. Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness makes imperialism seem ineffective. Swift and Conrad use the strengths of their genres to criticize imperialism, and I think that's a good thing (not kidding this time), but their critiques are limited by their European male assumptions.

Swift uses satire to point out that English assumptions of superiority are arrogant. Gulliver arrives in a land where horses act respectful and civilized, and he doesn't get how "brute beasts" can act this way. This phrase is an example of the irony that is a part of satire, which is Swift's genre that he is using the strengths of, as I mentioned in my thesis. Swift uses the word brute, which has connotations of violence and irrationality, to describe beings that are peaceful and rational. Gulliver muses that the people who own these horses must be "the wisest people upon earth." The people in the Houyhnhnms' country are called Yahoos, and they are the most disgusting animals Gulliver has ever seen.

But he fails to imagine a society without the stereotypes of 18th-century English society, which — surprise! — is Jonathan Swift's own society. Male horses are heads of their households and they boss around the lady horses. The rich horses have servants working in their homes, and Gulliver refers to horses "of quality," which makes it sound like some horses are not quality. I guess that means if they're not born with money they're not respectable. These aspects of Houyhnhnm society are described without any irony. I believe they show cultural assumptions.

Conrad's criticism focuses more on the ineffectiveness of European efforts to bring order to colonized regions. He uses a frame narrative which is his genre to give readers a sense of his main character. Marlow muses that in ancient times, the British Isles were taken over by Romans. He seems to sympathize with the Romans, but he also says they managed their work through "brute force," which is "nothing to boast of, when you have it, since your strength is just an accident arising from the weakness of others." His descriptions of colonists are brutally honest but he rarely criticizes colonialism itself. Except he compares the evils of colonialism to "a flabby, pretending, weak-eyed devil of a rapacious and pitiless folly."

I believe Marlow's focus on the ineffectiveness of colonialism shows his European assumptions. Marlow as storyteller never lets any African characters speak for themselves, and he makes no effort to connect with them on a deeper level. Marlow assumes African thoughts are simple. He says a white man is regarded as a "supernatural being." Also, he calls ruined grass houses "pathetically childish." Overall, this suggests a racist point of view. Am I right, or am I right?

Conrad and Swift make an effort to question and critique their own societies' cultural beliefs, but they also make typical assumptions of white European males of their time. The whole truth about colonialism they do not tell — but they tell part of the truth, and I guess that's something.

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