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THE SETTING SUN: POSTCOLONIAL ANXIETY IN EDGAR HUNTLY AND HEART OF DARKNESS KATHARINE A. STEVENSON A Thesis Submitted to the Division of Humanities New College of Florida in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor o f Arts in English Under the Sponsorship of Miriam Wallace Sarasota, Florida April 2010
ii Dedication This project is dedicated to my parents, Larry and Robyn, and to my brother, Sam. Without the three of you, I would never get very far.
iii Acknowledgements I would like to thank Professor Miriam Wallace for working with me through every stage and incarnation of my thesis; Professor Kirk McAuley for introducing me to the work of Charles Brockden Brown and for giving me constructive feedback t hroughout this project; Professor Phillip Wegner for teaching me everything I could want to know about Joseph Conrad; and Professors Nova Myhill and David Rohrbacher for serving on my thesis committee. I would also like to thank L.A. Fields for talking ev erything out with me; Ali Liang and Kelly Maher for their company; Lauren Breza for her long distance conversations; Jamie Valentine for always having a sense of humor; Hannah Woerner for telling it like it is; and Tom Hartsfield for making this year one o f my best so far.
iv Table of Contents Dedication ............................ ............................ ............................ .................... ii Acknowledgements ............................ ............................ ..................... ...... ....... iii Table of Contents ............................ ............................ ..................................... iv Abstract ............................ ............................ ............................ ........................ v Introduction: Pinpointing Postcolonialism ........................................................... 1 Empire, Imperialism, and Colonialism ... 1 Edgar Huntly .................................... .................................... ... .............. 10 Heart of Darkness .................................... .............................................. 13 Chapter One: Edgar Huntly 's Uneasy Colonial Aftermath ................................. 16 Postcoloniality ........................ ................................................................. 16 Savagery and the Native ......................................................................... 21 Women in Empire .................................................................... ................ 30 Chapter Two: Heart of Darkness Reveals the Reality of Empire ...................... 36 Postcoloniality ......................................................................................... 36 Savagery and the Native ............. ............................................................ 38 Women in Empire .................................................................................... 44 Conclusion: The Machinations of Empire ................................................ .......... 52 Bibliography .................................... .................................... ............................. 59
v THE SETTING SUN: POSTCOLONIAL ANXIETY IN EDGAR HUNTLY AND HEART OF DARKNESS Katharine A. Stevenson New College of Flori da, 2010 ABSTRACT The field of postcolonial studies has rarely looked at American literature in a postcolonial context. The goal of this project is to draw together a traditional postcolonial text, Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness and an early Am erican novel, Charles Brockden Brown's Edgar Huntly and address problematic issues that appear in both works: the concept of postcoloniality, the portrayal of native peoples, and the situation of women in empire. Most importantly, the focus of this projec t is on the voices of the two novels' narrators, who are neither entirely colonized nor entirely imperialistic characters, and whose voices have been marginalized due to their liminal statuses. Professor Miriam Wallace Division of Humanities
1 Introduc tion: Pinpointing Postcolonialism "Every empire, however, tells itself and the world that it is unlike all other empires, that its mission is not to plunder and control but to educate and liberate" Edward Said Empire, Imperialism, and Colonialism Despi te the fact that Charles Brockden Brown's Edgar Huntly and Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness are set and written nearly a century apart, both novels take place amidst the deterioration of European colonial powers. Each novel is heavily influenced by the po stcolonial mentalities and concerns of its author and narrator. The liminal spaces occupied by the two primary characters of the respective novels, Edgar Huntly and Charlie Marlow, are spaces desired by powerful European imperialist societies but are space s which have become or are becoming unattainable due to the weakening of those societies' empires and the increasing difficulty of maintaining imperialist control over distant territories. The liminal status of American settlers after breaking loose from B ritain, and of Europeans in the Congo once Belgian governance and European trade systems there began to break down, leaves the people living in these spaces in an extremely tenuous, uncertain position, fostering intense anxiety among them. For Americans, once ruled and supplied by Britain but alone as of 1781, this anxiety is that of a people searching for their place in the world somewhere between American Indian territory and Europe a people divided over their own independence. For Britons and Europeans in the Congo, a space highly prized by all European powers but exceedingly difficult to control, this anxiety is that of
2 colonizers feeling their civilizing grip on the savage outer limits of their empire beginning to slip. Establishing both Heart of Da rkness and Edgar Huntly as "postcolonial" enables reading them first in terms of the postcolonial concerns of their authors, and secondly within a more global and less national context. These works document the complications of empire building, the impossi bility of perpetually maintaining empire, and the anxiety of the postcolonial condition during two different times and in two different places. While the locations, time periods, and the powers concerned are different, the anxieties of empire and imperial decline are similar. Empire is perhaps the most important concept to the formulation of this project. The difficulty in defining the word comes from the realization that empire is much more an abstract idea than a concrete entity. The entry for "empire" in the Oxford English Dictionary is lengthy; the portions that I found relevant to my project are as follows: n. Imperial rule or dignity; supreme and extensive political dominion, esp. that exercised by an emperor' or by a sovereign state over its depen dencies; paramount influence, absolute sway, supreme command or control that which is subject to imperial rule an aggregate of subject territories ruled over by a sovereign state; Great Britain with its dominions, colonies, and dependencies; the British empire, freq. the overseas dominions, etc., as opposed to Great Britain.
3 The problems with these definitions are significant, and necessitate some other formulation of what "empire" means, especially when dealing with the term in a complex postcolonial lig ht. Empire is not merely political, nor can all of its intricacies be summed up in any kind of "aggregate" sense. In an effort to establish more applicable working definitions of these terms for my project, I turn to Edward Said's Culture and Imperialism t o find effective definitions of empire, imperialism, and colonialism that apply throughout this thesis. Said's conceptions of these terms are suitably abstract and inclusive for application to both Edgar Huntly and Heart of Darkness While Edgar Huntly i s a novel directly influenced by the British Empire through Britain's relinquishing of control over America nine years prior to the novel's publication, Heart of Darkness would seem to be influenced more directly by Belgian colonialism rather than British imperialism. The Congo, where the majority of the novel is set, was a Belgian Crown property until 1908, and a Belgian colony even until 1960. However, I would argue that the British Empire has significant influence on Heart of Darkness and its content, no t only because British colonialism served as a model and a means for Belgian colonialism Belgium alone would have been unable to attain or maintain control of the Congo without the simultaneous colonial efforts of Britain and France in Africa, but because Joseph Conrad spent the majority of his life as a British subject and because, being written in English, he intended Heart of Darkness to be read by an English speaking (primarily British) audience. While bringing a certain skepticism and ambivalence to po stcolonial writing that is not present in the work
4 of most British authors, Conrad nevertheless writes from the viewpoint of a British imperialist, not a Belgian one, and certainly not as someone removed from the colonial project. Said's analysis and criti cism of the British Empire can easily be applied to European and American imperial powers in general due to Britain's status as an original European example of the establishment and maintenance of empire as well as of the general practice of imperialism in culture. European imperial powers, ever changing and never permanently established physically, nevertheless existed with great certainty in the minds of their publics and in the imaginations of the men who were at the forefront of exploring and expanding their most distant reaches. Said notes that the success of an empire depends upon the idea of having an empire and all kinds of preparations are made for [empire] within a culture ", namely the grooming of the people to accept the idea of domination over another culture or cultures (Said 11). Said defines "empire" through yet another author, Michael W. Doyle, an international relations scholar and professor of International Affairs. According to Doyle, empire is a relationship, formal or informal, in whic h one state controls the effective political sovereignty of another political society. It can be achieved by force, by political collaboration, by economic, social, or cultural dependence" (Doyle 45). Doyle's mention of (and Said's subsequent focus on) the economic, social, and cultural aspects of empire are what set this definition apart from the Oxford English Dictionary's drier version. The modus operandi of European countries (with Britain being the most prominent example) for establishing empires invol ved imposing social and cultural dominance by force and
5 maintaining it by means of economic dependence. However, there were exceptions, namely America, where Britain worked in the opposite direction, establishing dominance originally through economic, soci al, and cultural means and then moving on to force once it was deemed necessary in response to the colonists' (primarily economic) rebellion. Said also emphasizes that empire was, to the Europeans who actually established it if not for those who simply w atched it emerge, primarily a matter of business and profit. "The fact that during the 1890s the business of empire, once an adventurous and often individualistic enterprise, had become the empire of business" is one of the reasons that disillusionment and anxiety figure so strongly in late Colonial and nearly all post Colonial literature (Said 23). The initial settling of America, for instance, was a primarily individualistic man against nature challenge, but by the mid 1700s it had transformed primarily i nto a British economic venture that involved American colonists producing materials for Britain to profit from. This naturally led to economic rebellion and disillusionment on the part of the colonists. However, instead of setting up the business of empir e as the opposite of empire's other motives, Said draws them as separate aspects that feed off of and reinforce one another, a dynamic that plays out in both of the aforementioned novels. Said writes that neither empire nor colonialism is a simple act of accumulation and acquisition. Both are supported and perhaps even impelled by impressive ideological formations that include notions that certain territories and people require and beseech domination,
6 as well as forms of knowledge affiliated with domin ation: the vocabulary of classic nineteenth century imperial culture is plentiful with words like 'inferior' or 'subject races,' 'subordinate peoples,' dependency,' 'expansion,' and 'authority.' Out of the imperial experiences, notions about culture w ere clarified, reinforced, criticized, or rejected (Said 9). Reinforcing ideas of superiority, authority, and necessity were all part of the process of preparing European peoples for dominance over other parts of the world through a system of justification and the illusion of benevolence sometimes even the genuine naive belief that the actions of empire were benevolent. This commitment to empire "over and above profit" made it possible for "decent men and women to accept the notion that distant territorie s and their native peoples should be subjugated, and, on the other, replenished metropolitan energies so that these decent people could think of the imperium as a protracted, almost metaphysical obligation to rule subordinate, inferior, or less advanced pe oples" (Said 10); again, the idea of empire was self fulfilling and perhaps even more powerful than the empire itself ever was. Imperialism, meanwhile, is simply "the process or policy of establishing or maintaining an empire", "the practice, the theory and the attitudes of a dominating metropolitan center ruling a distant territory"; colonialism is "a consequence of imperialismthe implanting of settlements on distant territory" (Said 9). These terms are just as important as "empire" is, considering t hat Heart of Darkness is essentially an ambivalent combined exaltation and condemnation
7 of imperialism and the resulting colonialism, while Edgar Huntly is a much less self conscious examination of the eventual consequences of imperialism and the resulting colonialism. Fostering the imperialist attitude is extremely important for a colonial power since, in Britain's case as well as all of Europe's, it ensured that "there was very little domestic resistance to these empires, although they were very frequent ly established and maintained under adverse and even disadvantageous conditionsimmense hardships [were] endured by the colonizers there was always the tremendously risky disparity between a small number of Europeans at a very great distance from home and the much larger number of natives in their home territory" (Said 11). By turning their citizens into imperialists, people who believe that other humans "require and beseech domination" because they are somehow lesser or at least less competent, European p owers ruled out the immediate possibility of moral objection against colonization from those in their European home countries (Said 9). The very specific "set of experiences", namely the collective beliefs about the colonies and their inhabitants, shared b y those within the imperialist culture make it possible for them to band together to dehumanize the Other and justify colonialism more easily, and so "imperialism acquires a kind of coherence" that gives it power (Said 11). The group mindset itself seems t o justify the opinions of the individuals within. The inclusion of Said's mention of the "much larger number of natives" in contrast to a small population of European colonizers brings up the central idea of this project: the anxiety of empire. The prese nce of the native in close
8 proximity to the colonizer is one major source of this anxiety, expressed in both novels very clearly. In Edgar Huntly there is a deep seated fear of Indian incursion on the relatively new and unprotected rural neighborhoods of Pennsylvania, the fear of which is illustrated by the reaction of the title character to the murder of his family in his childhood. Edgar also experiences both revulsion and desire in the face of Native American violence; he wishes to murder the Indians, a nd at the same time wishes to and in some way does become like them. In Heart of Darkness the narrator Marlow is both repulsed by Kurtz and the Congolese and wishes to experience the same freedom Kurtz has achieved among these natives through abandoning h is European moral code. The concepts of empire, imperialism, and colonialism apply both to Edgar Huntly and Heart of Darkness While Conrad's work is traditionally thought of in the context of British imperialism, Brockden Brown is considered mainly in t he context of the early development of a distinctively American literature rather than being thought of in relation to the larger colonial and postcolonial picture that America is inextricably a part of by virtue of its being a former British colony. Criti cism of Brockden Brown often brings up the violent and racist treatment of Native Americans in his novels, but I would like to delve further into its similarity to the actions of European imperial powers as seen in literature like Heart of Darkness ; despit e being an "American" novel, Edgar Huntly struggles with problems visible across a broad range of English language postcolonial fiction. Similarly, Conrad must be considered not simply as either a proponent or a critic of British imperialism, but as an a mbivalent voice on colonization and
9 exploitation. He stands as one of the first writers to express the world weariness and aimlessness felt by those living in Europe during the slow decay of the great European empires at the turn of the nineteenth century. These two authors' characterizations of the effects of empire on both the colonized and the colonizers deserve the utmost attention, as they widen the concept of empire to acknowledge the "presence of ruler and ruled alike within the culture" and to ackno wledge the negative effects of colonization on the oppressors as well as on the oppressed (Said 11). Said addresses imperialism with an aim "not to separate but to connect", and this is how I aim to address postcolonial concerns as they are exemplified i n Edgar Huntly and Heart of Darkness respectively (Said 14). Rather than focusing on the differences between these two very distinct novels, I draw them together through the theory that various forms of colonial and postcolonial anxiety strongly affect the colonizer as well as the colonized in any location or situation, particularly after the end of colonial rule. While the majority of postcolonial literature focuses on the colonized parties, I have chosen to focus on the colonizer so as to shed light on a somewhat neglected aspect of imperialism. Said links the issue of empire as a venture of business and profit with empire as a venture of altruism and pure adventurism, and it is parallel movements like these that I would like to bring to the forefront of my discussions of Heart of Darkness and Edgar Huntly In both novels, the authors create the double action of praising and condemning imperialism at once, with neither an entirely positive nor an entirely negative portrait of empire winning out in the end. Ambivalence
10 could be said to be the driving force of these two works and even of imperialism itself: the simultaneous desires for profit and for charity, for business and for boyish adventure, for freedom and for safety, for savagery and for civilization, for solitariness and for companionship, for navet and for experience. Edgar Huntly The title character of Edgar Huntly lives in the outskirts of colonial Pennsylvania society shortly after Britain has ceased to hold control over America, sometime aro und the year 1799, when Brown's novel was published. America is not yet secure in its own nationhood, but it is no longer a part of Britain; Edgar's community has been cut adrift from its moorings and American society as a whole is searching for definition and stability on its own terms. On one side of the figure of Edgar is a nation struggling to establish its own philosophical, economic, political, and literary tradition independent of its former colonial rulers, while on the other is what seems to be an endless wilderness filled with inscrutable savages and myriad physical dangers. Edgar's (and Brockden Brown's) traditional Quaker upbringing, his desire for intellectual acuity, and the social ties of his uncle's family, his mentor Sarsefield, his pregnant fiance, and his group of friends hold Edgar to the social world of Pennsylvania settler culture. However, Edgar is drawn to the unknown of the wilderness as an escape from the demands of this social milieu. The novel opens immediately after the murder o f Edgar's best friend Waldegrave. The murder is ascribed to Indians, however the perpetrator of the
11 crime is in fact unknown since Waldegrave was murdered with a musket, which could have been stolen by Indians or could denote a white Pennsylvanian murderer Edgar, driven both by feelings of guilt over the murder of his friend before his eyes and by a less conscious guilt over the murder of his parents by Indians in his childhood, embarks on a quest to bring the guilty party to justice. Edgar's first suspect is Clithero, a well educated native Scotsman working, incongruously, as a laborer in Edgar's neighborhood. Edgar follows Clithero in the night, and discovered him sleepwalking at the site of Waldegrave's demise. Following the sleepwalking Clithero farth er, Edgar delves into the Pennsylvania wilderness multiple times. After one such trip during which he hears Clithero's sad story of attempting to murder the mother of his beloved while sleepwalking back in Scotland, Edgar develops a deep sense of pity for Clithero, and wishes to alleviate the apparently afflicted man's guilt rather than to exact revenge on him. Edgar's obsession with Clithero leads him to begin sleepwalking himself, and during his trips into the woods, after regaining consciousness, Edgar's savage side is uncovered: he encounters, kills, and eats a panther on one occasion, and on another, during what might be considered the novel's crescendo, stalks and kills several Delaware Indians who are in possession of a kidnapped Pennsylvanian farm gi rl. Upon returning to his home after this excursion, Edgar finds, as he feared after encountering the Indians so nearby with a captive, that his village has been partially ransacked by Delawares, recalling memories of his parents' deaths and triggering a visceral fear in Edgar. During the events that follow, it is revealed that
12 Edgar and Clithero share a connection through Edgar's mentor, Sarsefield, a British veteran of colonial battles in India, who is engaged to the woman Clithero attempted to murder b ack in Europe. Middle aged, she is now in America with Sarsefield, from whom Edgar seeks some comfort and guidance about recent violent events. Sarsefield suggests that Clithero might not be entirely innocent of the attempted murder, but rather a rampaging maniac. He scolds Edgar for being so nave as to try to help the Scotsman, who has now flown from the wilderness, possibly in search of Sarsefield's fiance, to complete the attempted murder. The novel ends on a note of uncertainty; Edgar has no idea whet her he has helped a sick man or turned loose a criminal, and he struggles to reconcile his perceived nature as a sophisticated, civilized man with the violent murders he himself has committed in the forest. Edgar's desperation to invent or become his own person parallels the contemporary struggles of the new United States to establish and define itself as an entity suddenly separate from the direct influence and control of its parent country. This parallel becomes all the more clear after examination of t he author's personal life. Brockden Brown belonged to a school of thinkers who believed that America should establish its own cultural, governmental, and literary traditions, drawing as little as possible from European examples. Edgar Huntly is a represent ation of the impenetrable situation of Edgar himself and of his newly establish nation, caught between the need to reject the influences of its former British rulers and the difficulty of negotiating a native American world that can only be perceived as sa vage.
13 Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness begins with the introduction of Marlow, the narrator of most of the novel. The initial journey down the River Thames, before Marlow even begins his exotic African narrative, makes it plain that th e unthinkable has happened: the British Empire, and with it European empires as a whole, have begun to fall apart. The depression, repressed anxiety, and disillusionment exhibited by Marlow and his companions on the Thames is tied to this shrinking of the Empire. A feeling of failure pervades the nation and perhaps the nation's seamen in particular, due to their vital and constitutive role in the colonization of almost the entire empire. Marlow and his companions are leaving Britain as the narrative begins, and this journey gives Marlow the opportunity to begin a narrative of his first journey to the Congo as a young man many years earlier. Marlow is sent into the Congo by a Belgian trading company which seems to have recruited him through a British company over which his doting aunt has some influence. At first unaware of what his mission in Africa will be, it becomes clear after Marlow spends time at one of the trading post stations on the outskirts of the territory a station apparently manned by another E nglishman that his mission will be to take a steamboat down the Congo River into the depths of the wilderness to retrieve the head of an ivory collecting station who has become seriously ill, a man named Kurtz. During his time at the station waiting for hi s boat and as he travels down the river, Marlow develops a strong admiration for
14 Kurtz, who, according to the majority of the men Marlow meets in the Congo, is an unusually intelligent, moral, ethical men of excellent judgment and pure motives. However, once Marlow nears Kurtz's station, it becomes obvious that Kurtz has "gone native." He does not want to be returned to the more civilized, controlled parts of the Congo (much less to Britain); he has an African lover, he has become obsessed with the accumu lation of ivory to the detriment of his former morals and ethics, and it is heavily hinted that he has engaged in various Congolese practices and rituals including cannibalism. Marlow and his men have difficulty getting Kurtz onto their boat, and once they do, he is near death. His final words are "The horror! The horror!", words which Marlow cannot bring himself to tell Kurtz's fiance when he meets with her back in Britain to discuss the great man's passing. Rather than being drawn to the Congo as Edgar is drawn to the American wilderness in Edgar Huntly Marlow witnesses the fate of another man who has been drawn into native culture, and is disgusted by his decline. Marlow finds that Kurtz represents not the European ideal of bringing light to the darkn ess of Africa, but instead European imperialism's greatest fear: the overtaking of civilized society by savagery. In encountering Kurtz, Marlow comes face to face with the future of the empire, and all of this discomfort and anxiety is immediately justifie d.
15 Edgar Huntly and Heart of Darkness both represent marginalized postcolonial voices, their authors and narrators being figures who are closely related to colonizing forces but who are not themselves colonists in the traditional sense. Edgar and Marl ow are "in between" figures who provide perspectives on postcoloniality that do not come from either traditionally considered side of postcolonial issues. Edgar is a new American who is partially still British man and partially a free agent groping for a n ew identity, while Marlow is part of the European imperial structure yet takes an ambivalent stance on the colonial project in the Congo Free State. The recognition of these marginal voices and their experiences of postcolonialism provide new perspectives on three key issues: postcoloniality itself, the treatment and portrayal of the native, and the postcolonial position of women.
16 Chapter One: Edgar Huntly 's Uneasy Colonial Aftermath "What light has burst upon my ignorance of myself and of mankind! How su dden and enormous the transition from uncertainty to knowledge!" Edgar Huntly Postcoloniality Treating Edgar Huntly as a postcolonial novel requires some justification considering its generally accepted position as one of the first American novels and a n originator of the American literary tradition that follows. Edgar Huntly is often studied in a purely American historical context, in a psychoanalytic context, and simply as the best known example of Brockden Brown's work. While almost always discussed a s "an exceptionally American tale" (Shapiro xxx), the novel has never been discussed as a postcolonial novel to my knowledge. However, considering that Brockden Brown was quite literally America's first career writer, that few subsequent authors followed very discernibly in his footsteps, and that he wrote all of his novels during America's early struggles to claim a non European identity, I find it logical to place Brockden Brown's novels within a historical literary context that extends beyond the confin es of the United States and into the wider category of postcolonialism. Like the new nation, Brown and his circle of New York based literary colleagues aimed to define themselves and their works without reference to Europe, and in so adamantly insisting on their separation from the Old World, acknowledged its profound effects and continuing influence on them (Shapiro xii). Therefore, defining Brown's work in a purely American context seems just as nave as his own early desire to define himself as purely American. Additionally,
17 the idea that America was not (and arguably is not) a postcolonial nation is absurd. The categorization of American literature as simply "American" makes little sense, especially given the current scholarly discussion of the literat ures of "emergent nations" as explicitly, though not exclusively, postcolonial. If America was anything in 1787, it was emergent, and works like Brockden Brown's can easily be categorized as both American and postcolonial, just as Indian literature after t he British occupation is called both Indian and postcolonial. Brockden Brown himself states this in as many words in his preface to Edgar Huntly in 1799: America has opened new views to the naturalist and politician, but has seldome furnished themes to t he moral painter [as Brown thought of himself]. That new springs of action, and new motives to curiosity should operate; that the field of investigation, opened to us by our own country, should differ essentially from those which exist in Europe, may be readily conceivedIt is the purpose of this work to profit by some of these sources; to exhibit a series of adventures, growing out of the condition of our countryfor a native of America to overlook these, would admit of no apology. (Brockden Brown 4 ) Brown asks his readers to view Edgar Huntly as a novel set in a place which "[differs] essentially" from Europe, but not in a place entirely without reference to and influence from Europe. He hopes that although "Gothic castles and chimeras are the mater ials usually employed for [his] end", his readers will draw the same conclusions and take the same lessons from his tale of "Indian hostility, and the
18 perils of the western wilderness" as they would from the stories of his European counterparts (Brockden B rown 4). Taken as a whole, Brown's preface asks to be thought of in consideration of contemporary European fiction and in consideration of the new American environment in which and about which he writes. Empire is visible in Edgar Huntly primarily through Brockden Brown's simple act of setting the novel in 1787, the very year that the new American constitution was ratified "and thus year one of the national institution" after British rule (Shapiro xxx). The United States was still in the process of forming its own functional government. Its social, political, and economic spheres were constantly shifting, offering little security or stability to the American population, newly separated from relatively stable and protective Britain. Like Brockden Brown's sty le and subject matter, the new nation was, in essence, experimental. It is the fact that America was a British colony only a few years earlier which makes the concept of empire entirely applicable to Edgar Huntly Reading the novel in context requires ackn owledging Brockden Brown's preoccupation with the anxiety and fear gripping the United States in the face of the aftermath of decolonization. The first chapter of Edgar Huntly supposedly written by Edgar in epistolary form days after the novel's events ha ve occurred, sets this tone of nervous tension. The narrator is "somewhat delivered from suspense and from tremors" for long enough to write. He must for a moment "forbear to grasp at futurity" and cease to dwell on the anxiety "which [engrosses his] fears and [his] hopes" so as to focus on solving his more immediate problems (Brockden Brown 5). Taken out of context, Brown could be writing about either his own character or
19 about the United States in the 1790s, and thinking in terms of postcoloniality, he ca n be considered to be writing about both. The task of forming a national identity after independence is one that all former colonies face, and Brockden Brown successfully discusses this process through his relentlessly self seeking title character's acti ons and narration without directly addressing the process in terms of the United States itself. Edgar is constantly insisting on aspects of his own personality, for instance his most constantly insisted upon "aversion to bloodshed" (Brockden Brown 119), an d then contradicting them, as when, trapped in a cave overnight, his "heart [overflows] with cruelty, and [he ponders] on the delight [he] should experience in rending some living animal to pieces, and drinking its blood and grinding its quivering fibers b etween [his] teeth", something he proceeds to do within paragraphs (Brockden Brown 110). Like the United States, Edgar is attempting to figure out what he is really like, and the conflict between his ideals and his actions causes him massive amounts of a nxiety and guilt, making the novel, in some sense, a chronicle of an identity crisis. As America struggles out from under the shadow of imperial rule and moves towards its own conception of itself as an enlightened, independent country with a solid identit y, Edgar attempts to free himself from a burden of guilt he has felt since the murder of his family when he was a boy and from the crushing responsibility of his pregnant fiance to establish himself as an enlightened and benevolent man, but is not always successful. This desire to apply Enlightenment philosophy to everyday life reflects Brockden Brown's
20 enthusiasm for the Woldwinite 1 writers. Meanwhile, Edgar's difficulty in adhering to his own moral code makes it clear that Brockden Brown saw potential fl aws in the optimism of the Woldwinites and therefore in the optimism of the new United States, founded with similar idealist notions in mind (Shapiro xvii). Not only do Edgar's struggles mirror those of his home country, but his actions towards the India n population in his own Philadelphia neighborhood he becomes "an Indian killing machine in the second half of his story" (Shapiro x) both conflict with his image of himself as enlightened, and parallel the actions of European empires towards colonized nati ve populations. This can be seen as foreshadowing of the United States future behavior towards its own native peoples, which becomes shockingly similar to the way that the country whose rule it escaped behaved towards its imperial possessions, despite Amer ica's pretence of being a haven of liberty, equality, enlightenment, and progressivism. In Edgar Huntly "doctrines of nonviolence figure dramatically in the background" of the novel as Brown draws from his own Quaker background (Shapiro x). Edgar's extrem e violence towards the Native Americans he encounters as the novel progresses, violence which is apparently against his own nature, is an explicit and small scale example of what will eventually become widespread behavior towards Native Americans in the Un ited States. Part of the American postcolonial condition is the terrifying proximity of expanding American 1 "Woldwinite" is a contraction of (Mary) Wollestonecraft and (William) Godwin coined by Philip Barnard and Stephen Shapiro to describe a group of thinkers who strove to apply the philosophies of these two writers to government and social life; Shapiro calls this a sort of "p rogressive cultural politics" adopted by Brown's circle of New York friends as well as by British radical democrats in the 1790s.
21 settlement to rapidly shrinking and sometimes violent Native American territory. Although the United States has no "[consequences] of imperialism" in the form of colonies in the 1790s, the country has not escaped the imperialist outlook inherited from Britain which gives America the "[attitude] of a dominating metropolitan center," despite not having become one yet as of 1787 (Said 9). America exerts this attitude first over its Native population. America does, however, have one "consequence of imperialism" in 1787: the volatile postcolonial condition, which it is experiencing as a formerly coloniz ed nation rather than as a coloniz ing one. This anxious and uncertain postcolonial condition is what Edgar Huntly so adequately exemplifies, and it is the volatility of this condition that precipitates the title character's frantic violent outbursts and extreme defensiveness. Savagery and the Native One of t he main postcolonial concerns of Edgar Huntly is the presence of "savages" or "natives" in America, competing for space with the British colonists/American citizens. The presence of the natives also sets up a moral struggle in the United States. There is c onflict between the professed enlightened state of the new country and the fear of attack by the native population that sometimes necessitates or at least prompts violence. The question of when violence is justified comes up frequently in Edgar's encounter s with the Delaware Indians, and he struggles constantly between his hatred of violence and the fear that motivates him to eliminate the Indians for what he claims is his own safety.
22 Huntly encounters two types of natives in the course of the novel: the fi rst is another white man who is nevertheless a savage of sorts and very different from Edgar, and the second are the Delaware Indians, who are a more obvious and immediate threat to Edgar and his fellow Americans. This initial "foreign" encounter is with Clithero, "a stranger among" the Quakers of the Norwalk area of Pennsylvania (Brockden Brown 13). He is "an emigrant from Ireland" (Brockden Brown 12) whose "mind [is] superior to his station" as a physical laborer (Brockden Brown 13). Huntly sees Clither o sleepwalk with "something like flannelwrapt round his waist" (Brockden Brown 9), an unconventional dress which helps to mark him not only as slightly savage despite his intelligence, but also reminds us of his native heritage. Edgar views Clithero as mo re primitive than himself, "closer, that is, to the Indian" than to Edgar (Gardner 442). This "in between" encounter foreshadows the truly savage encounter that Huntly will have later on with the Delawares. While Edgar himself is marginal because of his un defined status as a former British subject and current new American, Clithero is marginal because he, too, lacks any solid nationality. He is Irish, and "the Irishcame to epitomize the alien" in the United States during this period (Gardner 436). Clithero has fled his home country and settled in one that is barely a national entity yet. Because he is a native of Ireland, he is considered somewhat more savage and dangerous than a more "British" man like Edgar, and acts as Edgar's "destabilizing twin indeed, as his mad double" throughout the novel, leading Edgar into the wilderness (Smith Rosenberg 11). "Edgar and Clithero, as critics have demonstrated, undergo
23 parallel experiences, marking them as the first in a long tradition of psychological doubles" in Am erican literature (Gardner 450). Clithero is a step between Edgar's entirely civilized existence in his Pennsylvania settlement and the total savage chaos of the Delaware's wilderness. In reading Huntly's encounters with Clithero, I found William Godwin's essay Of Choice In Reading helpful. Godwin (the same Godwin of the "Woldwinite" thinkers) was not only a contemporary of Brockden Brown's, but also an inspiration to Brown. Godwin's work helped to "[undergird Brown's] entire literary project after the mid 1790s" (Shapiro xv). Therefore, it seems appropriate to apply some of Godwin's theory of the novel to an analysis of Brown. Additionally, Brown refers to himself in the preface to his first novel, Arthur Mervyn as a "moral observer" to whom the tale he i s about to unfold has been "fertile in instruction" (Brockden Brown (2) 3); and in the preface to Edgar Huntly itself as a "moral painter" to whom America has "seldome furnished themes" so far (Brockden Brown 3). In Of Choice In Reading Godwin posits th at a work can be analyzed according to two sometimes opposing components: the moral of the work and the tendency of the work. "The moral of any work may be defined to be, that ethical sentence to the illustration of which the work may most aptly be ap plied. The tendency is the actual effect it is calculated to produce upon the reader, and cannot be completely ascertained but by the experiment."
24 (Godwin 123) The moral and the tendency of a work could run parallel and have no difference, but in Ed gar Huntly they are sometimes opposites, with the tendency of the work undermining the moral. Brockden Brown's novel seems to have a moral interest in promoting the kind of nonviolent enlightenment that the character of Edgar attempts to embody, yet its te ndency is to reveal that it is not always possible to adhere to this type of moral code, and that violence and prejudice are at times necessary to preserve one's own life. This tendency to reveal the inadequacies of the ideals on which Brown's own school o f thought was founded, and of the Enlightenment philosophies on which the new United States was founded, implies that neither this school of thought nor the new nation's foundations will be adequate in the long term. This in turn implies that the anxiety o f the postcolonial condition, both within the novel and in the novel's real life milieu, is justified. The anxiety of postcolonial peoples might not be an unfounded fear of the unknown, but rather a fear of the very real possibility of failure and decline. Edgar Huntly "casts a skeptical light on the foundingof Pennsylvaniaand the United States (in the constitution) alike", and therefore a skeptical light on their futures (Shapiro xxx). Huntly's treatment of Clithero is an example of Edgar's morality, a nd through him the morality of the United States. Huntly's interactions with Clithero are, according to Edgar himself, aimed at promoting Clithero's welfare, alleviating his guilt, and bringing him out of the wilderness into which he has wandered and back into Pennsylvania society. Clithero is an object onto which Huntly's and the
25 novel's moral consciousness can be enacted. In helping Clithero, Huntly is looking to exercise "the magic of sympathy, the perseverance of benevolence", and show how they can sure ly "work a gradual and secret revolution" on Clithero's miserable condition (Brockden Brown 76). In short, Huntly is looking to display the novel's moral objective, and prove that the exercise of benevolence and sympathy are enough to return the savage Cli thero to civilized society. Treating Huntly as an embodiment of the early American moral and tendency, the character displays the young country's moral faade of constant improvement and betterment for those under it's wing, even odd immigrants like Clith ero. Meanwhile, Huntly's subconscious motive is to relieve Clithero's guilt purely because this will relieve his own. He associates his own guilt over the deaths of his family members and his friend Waldegrave with Clithero's guilt over the murders he has committed, and so if Clithero can be forgiven and comforted, Huntly can be as well. Edgar "begins by looking for guilt in [Clithero] and ends finding it in himself" (Cassuto 119), and at bottom, it is "guilt which impels Edgar to undertake his bizarre ques t" (Cassuto 118). Huntly sees the unreasonableness of Clithero's guilt over the events during his life in Ireland; Clithero's feelings of guilt seem "phantastic and groundlessin some degree" due to the fact that he was supposedly unconscious when committi ng his crimes (Brockden Brown 79). However, Huntly fails to make the same connection when it comes to his own guilt, never realizing that in no way could he have prevented his parents' deaths, as a small child, and Waldegrave's recent death, since it came from a gunshot in the dark. He "feels (irrationally) guilty for not being there to save his parents, or at
26 least to die along with them" (Cassuto 121), and this guilt is compounded by identical feelings over Waldegrave's death. Instead of simply accepting that he feels sympathy for Clithero because of their mutual crippling feelings of guilt and fear, he uses condescending pity and othering to distance himself from the problem as much as possible. The novel's tendency, in Clithero's case, is to show that E dgar's progressive approach to helping the man is ill conceived and inadequate. After all, by the end of the novel it appears that Clithero may have been a homocidal maniac, and Edgar concludes his entire narrative by writing to his fiance that he has "er red, not through sinister or malignant intentions, but from the impulse of misguided, indeed, but powerful benevolence" (Brockden Brown 192), one of the more common claims of imperial countries when their colonial projects fail, according to Said 2 Edgar H untly 's moral is benevolence, while its tendency is to reveal the patronizing nature of colonialism. "Benevolent intentions" like those of Edgar towards Clithero can also can be seen in imperial behavior towards colonized peoples. Since one can only pity someone who is perceived as inferior, imperial powers and Brockden Brown's character see native populations and Clithero, respectively, as somehow inferior to themselves. Pity necessitates differentiation, and pity creates the perfect means to feel benevol ently inclined towards a perceived inferior. The appearance of these behaviors in America exemplified by Edgar's mixed attitude towards Clithero foreshadows the new country's future as an oppressive power towards Native Americans, even during Brockden Brow n's lifetime. Huntly's attitude 2 See the quote at the head of my Introduction.
27 towards Clithero is significant not only to the novel's plot, but also to its wider postcolonial context, since it exemplifies aspects of the relationship between the imperial power and the subjugated and "othered" native. H untly is able to represent both America's attitude towards its native population and imperial attitudes towards colonial subjects. Huntly is a former British subject acting out the British ideal of imperialism in the new United States. Edgar's encounter w ith the Delaware Indians creates an even more intense moral struggle, one that occurs not only in the novel but in the actual postcolonial United States: that of benevolent ideals conflicting with feelings of extreme fear and/or disgust that prompt violent and prejudicial acts. "Despite the persistent pleas of pacifism that punctuate each of the novel's scenes of violence," Edgar still manages to murder nearly every Indian he comes across (Gardner 445). He spends a significant portion of the novel attempti ng to justify his actions and avoid more feelings of guilt heaped upon those he already feels about his parents' and friend's deaths. Huntly's first encounter with the Delawares was as a small child, when his parents and one of his siblings were murdered in their beds while he and his sisters were away from home. Before he commits any acts of violence towards the savages in the novel, Edgar mentions this catastrophe, and uses it preemptively to justify his actions: Most men are haunted by some species o f horror or antipathy, which they are, for the most part, able to trace to some incident which befell them in their early years. You will not be surprized that the fate of my parents, and
28 the sight of the body of one of this savage band [one of the kill ers], who, in the pursuit that was made after them, was overtaken and killed, should produce lasting and terrific images in my fancy. I never looked upon, nor called up the image of a savage without shuddering. (Brockden Brown 116) The first encounter Huntly has with Delawares within the scope of the novel is directly after his sleepwalking episode as he attempts to find his way out of the wilderness. Upon first seeing three Indians in the shadows, "it was the scope of [Huntly's] wishes to kill the who le number of [his] foes; but that being done, [he] was indifferent to the consequences" meaning that he does not care whether he lives or dies after eliminating this perceived threat (Brockden Brown 126). The Delawares are continually referred to as Huntly 's "foes", despite the fact that these particular Indians have done nothing to him, that he could in fact sneak away from them without being harmed. This is a period during which Huntly somehow forgets his Quaker commitment to nonviolence and leans towards murder not as a last resort but as a preventative measure. But when he tries to shoot one Delaware he does not know why he hesitates; "what hindered [him] from shooting at [the Delaware's] first appearance, [he knew] not...this had been [his] previous res olution" (Brockden Brown 127). Huntly remembers himself even as he is committing murder, contemplating as he stands over the body of the first Indian that he had "never before taken the life of a human creature[he] had, indeed, entertained somewhat of religious scruplesthese scruples did not forbid [him] to defend
29 [himself], but they made [him] cautious and reluctant to decide" (Brockden Brown 120). Huntly can only pull the trigger of the musket he is holding when he decides that he is "urged by a nece ssity" to preserve his own life (Brockden Brown 120). Brockden Brown uses this incident to illustrate Edgar's inconstancy and his naivet in believing that he can maintain his moral code forever. This episode also highlights the fact that Edgar (again acti ng as metaphor for the United States) does not know himself 3 He honestly believes in his own nonviolent nature, yet he longs to be violent when faced with the chance. Edgar Huntly is partially an example of "the failure of compassion and benevolence to su cceed in an American society" (Shapiro xxix) no longer ruled by the strict codes of Britain and faced with "savage" Indians. Huntly proceeds, in the following pages, to praise the Delawares in a way that obfuscates his previous opinion of them as savage m onsters and makes it seem that his pacifist ideals and desire for peace might well be genuine. After shooting a third Delaware, the man's "cries struck upon [Edgar's] heart", and Huntly actually wishes that "[the Indian's] better fortune had cast this evil from him upon [himself]" (Brockden Brown 128). Wishing for his own death is Huntly's first reaction to seeing the painful death of the Indian who was just a few minutes previously his mortal foe. He describes the Delawares as "inured to combat and war wor n" "full of energy and heroism, endowed with minds strenuous and lofty" 3 The unknowability of the self is a subject Brockden Brown was interested in throughout his literary career. The theme appears most prominently in his first (now lost) novel titled Sky Walk; or, The Man Unknown to Himself (Shapiro xviii). It is also a theme in the well known Wieland in which a religious family man murders the majo rity of his kin in a frenzy.
30 and is disturbed by the fact that he "was the instrument of their destruction" (Brockden Brown 129). When thinking again about his religious commitment to nonviolence (he is a Quaker), Huntly notes that while these scruples did not prevent him from defending himself, "they were sufficient to make [him] look back upon the deed with regret and dismay" (Brockden Brown 120). Edgar Huntly's inconstant, ultimately ambivalent attitude toward s the Delawares points to the general ambivalence and insecurity of Brockden Brown's novel. Huntly, like his new country, is torn between traditional civilized society on the one hand and a terrifying new frontier with the possibility of the birth of a new society on the other. Edgar both admires and hates the Indians and the savagery they represent: they are admirable for their capabilities as warriors, and hateful for their brutal and uncivilized ways. They rapidly increase Edgar's feelings of anxiety by causing him to break his code of nonviolence and cast doubt onto his entire moral philosophy, as well as by making his civilized pocket of Pennsylvania feel unsafe, emphasizing the fact that Edgar and his fellows are on the brink of the unknown both litera lly (on the frontier) and figuratively (the future of the whole nation). Women in Empire In Edgar Huntly the title character partially blames the project of colonialism on women because he feels that he must maintain the world as it is for them and prov ide them with protection from the uncertainties of the postcolonial condition. Much of Brockden Brown's work actually has a feminist
31 slant: Wieland centers around the trials and tribulations of a heroine who is rational and reasonable above all (Brockden B rown (3) 16), while Ormond has been called "the most self consciously radical fiction written in the Unites States before Moby Dick due to its portrayal of female transvestitism and French feminism (Shapiro (2) ix). Out of all of his novels, Edgar Huntly is probably the only one that can be construed as misogynistic or blameful of women. Brockden Brown himself read and appreciated the work of Mary Wollstonecraft (Shapiro xv); he and his circle of friends, which included several women, were proponents of th e idea of male female intellectual companionship and the inclusion of women in more than just the domestic sphere. Edgar Huntly however, is concerned with protecting women in a condescending way, not with treating them as equals. Perhaps the most importa nt female figure in Edgar Huntly is largely invisible to the reader, but has a significant effect on Huntly's narrative: she is his pregnant fiance, living in a different Pennsylvania town, to whom he is writing the letters which construct this epistolary novel (Brockden Brown 100). It is obvious that she has removed herself from their social milieu so as to cover up her illegitimate pregnancy. Instead of keeping his fiance in total ignorance, Huntly writes to her that "to keep [her] in ignorance of what has happened would justly offend [her]", and proceeds to elaborate on his past weeks' adventures for one hundred and ninety four pages (Brockden Brown 5). Unfortunately, Huntly still puts down women's ability to understand complicated subjects as easily as men, as he explains to his fiance why he is not even going to try to explain the contents of a parcel of letters he received in the course of his narrative. Huntly,
32 cites the need and desire to protect women from violent, depressing, or "dark" knowledge as a reason why he keeps certain information from her: Thou, like others of thy sex, art unaccustomed to metaphysical refinements. Thy religion is the growth of sensibility and not of argument. Thou are not fortified and prepossessed against the subtle ties, with which the being and attributes of the deity have been assailed. Would it be just to expose thee to pollution and depravity from this source? (Brockden Brown 90) Huntly states his case against the opposite sex concisely: women are only equipp ed to understand emotions and not reason; women are not mentally and emotionally strong enough to understand "subtleties" without being somehow damaged; and it is the duty of men to take on the burden of these subtleties while protecting women from them. It is interesting that Huntly endeavors to protect his fiance from knowledge of what could very well be their financial ruin or salvation, yet he fully discloses his extremely disturbing violent escapades in the wilderness to her. One of the narrator's c oncerns in Heart of Darkness is to protect women from knowledge of the death and destruction that the colonial project incurs, whereas Huntly is concerned with protecting his fiance from matters that might materially affect her happiness and even her abil ity to live and provide for their child. This is a different and more insidious form of misogyny altogether, since it implies that women are not capable of handling knowledge of issues that directly affect their lives.
33 Most tellingly, there is a note of b lame in Huntly's correspondence with his fiance. She is one of the causes of his distress: her pregnancy has caused him to fret over his finances, which he has never had to worry about before. His sleepwalking begins in earnest after he learns of the mone y his friend Waldegrave may have left behind and to which Edgar's fiance, Waldegrave's sister, may be heir to: eight thousand dollars, "enough to allow Edgar and [his fiance] to live independently (i.e., solely on the interest it would provide)" for the rest of their lives (Shapiro 95). Edgar is forced to choose between keeping the money for himself and his future wife, and giving it to Waldegrave's other friends who have moral rather than legal claims to it (the money was originally a loan to Waldegrave, and he would have wanted it paid back if be died before paying it himself) (Brockden Brown 97). It is partially this moral dilemma that drives Edgar away from his responsibilities in society and into the wilderness where he need focus only on Clithero, su rvival, and his baser instincts. Despite the fact that the money actually belongs to his future wife, Edgar's "assumed patriarchy" insist that "women are incapable of negotiating the complexities of a modern commercial economy" (Shapiro xxxiii). Edgar take s control of his fiance's finances without reference to her, and then reacts badly to the burden of the responsibility. By the end of the novel, Edgar returns to his town of Norwalk, and again takes up the burden of his fiance and their future child. Af ter his adventures, Edgar has "consumed weeks and filled volumes" with his story by way of letters (Brockden Brown 187), only returning to the pregnant woman after he has
34 completed recounting his experiences. However, once he decides to rejoin her, he pro mises to "discuss with [her] in conversation, [his] other immediate concerns, and [his] schemes for the future", meaning their financial situation (Brockden Brown 187). Unfortunately for his fiance, Edgar has readily signed away the fortune her brother le ft in order to uphold the moral code he let slip in the wilderness. Waldegrave's debts, none of which were legally documented, have been paid, and Edgar's conscience is clear, while his family might languish in poverty. Edgar is determined to "protect" his future wife, and this seems to mean protecting her from certain types of knowledge. Shapiro writes that "by the end of the narrative, the tale's women have been stripped of control over their finances and locked within positions of infantile subordination to men", not at all examples of Brockden Brown's Wollestonecraftian ideal of companionship as equals (Shapiro xxxii). Read in a postcolonial context, Edgar Huntly provides the reader with an acute sense of the anxiety that pervades the United States i n the year of its inception. The fear of Indian incursion, the fear of being without the protection of Britain, and the pressure of forming a new government, economic system, and social structure all combine to create feelings of deep uncertainty in limina l figures like Edgar. Edgar's relationship with Clithero, the Delaware Indians, and with his fiance all shed light on the difficulties of his postcolonial condition. He is torn between two separate worlds and must create his own character, just as the Uni ted States must during this time period. Edgar's insistence on remaining true
35 to his ideals combined with his repetitive compromising of those ideals show how troublesome it is for a man or for a nation to form a sound new identity. Edgar's encounters with the Delaware Indians and his relationship with his fiance are the two stressors that most obviously force him to break or permanently alter his personal moral and ethical rules.
36 Chapter Two: Heart of Darkness Reveals the Reality of Empire "They howled a nd leapt, and spun, and made horrid faces; but what thrilled you was just the thought of their humanity like yours the thought of your remote kinship with this wild and passionate uproar." Heart of Darkness Postcoloniality The signs of empire, imperiali sm, and colonialism are far more obvious in Heart of Darkness than in Edgar Huntly Critics have long thought of the novel as "one of fiction's strongest statements about imperialism", the postcolonial theme being "obvious and central" (Hawkins 286). Most of Joseph Conrad's work has been analyzed and critiqued in terms of its adherence to or rejection of the doctrines of British imperialism. Rather than placing Conrad simply as pro or anti imperialist, I would like to acknowledge the ambivalence that he sh ares with Charles Brockden Brown and which is it at the heart of my project. Neither author is sure what to think of or how to present empire, since imperialism has both positive and negative aspects for their protagonists. Said hints at this double move ment in Heart of Darkness in his own analysis, recognizing that "Conrad's narrators are not average unreflecting witnesses of European imperialism" who readily accept everything they see happening around them; instead "they think about it a lot, they worry about it, they are actually quite anxious about whether they can make it seem like a routine thing" (Said 29). Said's problematically conflates this uncomfortable ambivalence with a desire to defend all of the actions of empire. Conrad's narrators strive to justify what they see in many cases, but I read these efforts more as exemplifying the power of the imperialist mindset even on Conrad's
37 narrators than as an example of Conrad's racism or support of empire. His narrators have been brainwashed into the i mperial mindset to the point that they struggle to question the ethics and morality of what they see in real life, no matter how disturbing. Marlow specifically is trying to comfort himself and do away with his feelings of guilt and fear about the realitie s of empire by attempting to justify them. He is not trying to promote imperialist actions, and his story of Kurtz and the Congo reveals the real costs of empire for both Europeans and Africans. It is plain from the first pages of Heart of Darkness that M arlow's narrative is told during the British empire's decline, while its events occur during a peak of European power in Africa. This juxtaposition highlights the disillusionment of Marlow and his fellow Britons during and after the collapse, and so makes visible the negative effects of empire on the colonizer just as the narrative details the effects on the colonized. The existence of European colonies in Africa and the general acceptance of European rule over the population there establish the presence of imperialism and colonialism in the novel. Conrad captures the mixture of longing, regret, fear, and relief that washes over people like his narrator at this decline, especially within the novel's frame on the Thames: "A haze rested on the low shores tha t ran out to sea in vanishing flatness. The air was dark above Gravesend, and farther back still seemed condensed into a mournful gloom, brooding motionless over the biggest, and the greatest, town on earth" (Conrad 99). Conrad's language points to the cha nges that the great empire has been undergoing. They travel in "the brooding gloom," feeling "meditative, and fit for nothing but placid
38 staring", while "at last, in its curved and imperceptible fall, the sun [sinks] lowstricken to death by the touch of t hat gloom brooding over a crowd of men" (Conrad 100). On the Thames, "the serenity [becomes] less brilliant but more profound" with the setting of the sun (Conrad 100). Men like Marlow have made their livings through the establishment of empire and exper ienced things that have changed them permanently and negatively through the expansion and maintenance of colonial rule. Marlow decides to enter the Congo because of a thirst for adventure and a boyish desire to explore "the dark places of the earth" (Conra d 101), "tackle a darkness" (Conrad 103), and "lose [himself] in all the glories of exploration" (Conrad 104), but his experience is one of painful disillusionment. Marlow's tale renders the failing of British and more general European imperialist rule amb ivalently, as in part good for the colonizers despite their loss of power and profit. Telling his story in retrospect, the present day Marlow is partly cured of his idealism and uncritical support of colonial discourse at the end of his journey" (Dutheil 186). As he experiences the realities of empire building in the Congo, his imperial indoctrination melts away and he begins to criticize the European colonial project. Savagery and the Native The primary postcolonial concern of Heart of Darkness is Marlo w's encounter with Congolese natives on his journey up the Congo River. "Marlow's ambivalent attitude towards the radically foreign environment of the jungle" and
39 to the Congolese (Dutheil 193) is much like Edgar Huntly's ambivalence towards the Indians in Brockden Brown's American novel. Marlow fluctuates between admiration, fear, and disgust when he encounters natives, which is often since they are both working on his boat and inhabiting the jungle his boat is traveling through. Marlow also struggles with his own conception of empire throughout the novel. Until the very end, he idolizes Kurtz as a bringer of enlightenment, ethics, and morality to the corrupt world of ivory dealing and the savage world of the Congo. When this idealistic image of the man he seeks is shattered, his entire image of what colonialism is and what it entails is shattered along with it. He goes from believing in something like his aunt's views of colonialism he does, after all, believe that Kurtz is a bringer of enlightenment before he meets him to realizing that empire building involves brutal unethical actions on the part of the colonizers. As we see in the book's first pages, Marlow is jaded and pessimistic years later as he recounts the story of his journey because he has seen Ku rtz's "horror" and has been part of the giant economic profit machine that caused it. Marlow's encounter with the Congolese "savages" is a long and complicated process beginning with his time at the horrific work camp of the first European station he arr ives at. Upon seeing hundreds or thousands of Congolese dying as "black shadows of disease and starvation" he realizes in retrospect that at that moment it became inevitable that "in the blinding sunshine of that land [he] would become acquainted with a fl abby, pretending, weak eyed devil of a rapacious and pitiless folly" (Conrad 113). In other words, instead of seeing the glory of European empire and the enlightenment of a savage nation,
40 he would see the insatiable desire of Europeans for ivory and their cruelty and ruthlessness in obtaining it. Marlow contrasts the dehumanization of the African work force through overwork and starvation to the obscene hunger for ivory, money, and power of the white traders and administrators (Dutheil 198). This portrayal is somewhat original considering that "Conrad's objection to imperialism on the grounds that it disrupted indigenous cultures was unusual in an era that failed to see the worth of those cultures" (Hawkins 294). This realization of cruelty is the beginning of Marlow's descent into the dark inner workings of empire, into the British and European imperial subconscious, and into the novel's tendency towards ambivalence on the subjects of imperial power, exploitation, and the humanity of the Congolese. The Co ngolese who work on Marlow's steamboat are a constant source of fascination and fear because they are cannibalistic. The first flash Marlow has of simultaneous disgust and sympathy for the natives is at the point when Africans from the bush attack the boat and are fought off. One of the Congolese suggests to Marlow that they Catch im,' he snapped, with a bloodshot widening of his eyes and a flash of sharp teeth catch im. Give im to us.' To you, eh?' I asked; what would you do with them?' Eat im! he said, curtly, and, leaning his elbow on the rail, looked out into the fog in a dignified and profoundly pensive attitude. I would no doubt have been properly horrified, had it not occurred to me that he and his chaps must be very hungry: that they must have
41 been growing increasingly hungry for at least this month past. (Conrad 139) Marlow's comment that he should have been "properly" horrified is telling. He is beginning to break the rules of empire by feeling sympathy for his savage employees, an d he knows that he is doing something wrong or he wouldn't attempt to justify his sympathetic reaction to their plight. Marlow goes even farther towards sympathy with the natives when he begins to contemplate them more deeply, musing that they "still belon ged to the beginnings of time" and should therefore be forgiven for their lack of understanding of European mores (Conrad 139). As he travels deeper into the jungle with them, he looks at them "with a swift quickening of interest", and notes "how unwholeso me the pilgrims [what Marlow calls the other white men] looked" in comparison and even goes so far as to praise and respect the natives for their restraint in not eating the white men even in "the devilry of lingering starvation" (Conrad 140). Marlow goes from fear to something like pity when his boat is again beset by Congolese, who turn out to be making not an attack but "really an attempt at repulse" of the fearsome ship (Conrad 142). The rest of the men on the boat are terrified of the natives actually attacking, but Marlow is confident that they will not: what made the idea of an attack inconceivable to me was the nature of the noise of the cries we had heard. They had not the fierce character boding of immediate hostile intention. Unexpected, wild, and violent as they had been, they had given me an irresistible impression of sorrow.
42 The glimpse of the steamboat had for some reason filled those savages with unrestrained grief. (Conrad 141) Marlow is obviously not a usual perpetuator of imperialism Instead of irrationally fearing the Congolese like the other white men on his boat, he gains some level of insight into their actions because he thinks of them as human and not as savage animals. Marlow witnesses the death of one of his Congolese employe es in the boat at one point, and notes with fascination the dignity of the man's death. Marlow notes that "he died without uttering a sound, without moving a limb, without twitching a musclehe frowned heavily, and that frown gave to his black death mask a n inconceivably sombre, brooding, and menacing expression" (Conrad 145). Hawkins insists that "Marlow is essentially sympathetic to the Africans" (Hawkins 296), but here we see perfectly the combination of admiration and fear that Marlow experiences for th e natives. Marlow is essentially ambivalent in his attitude towards them, although even ambivalence radically shifts his opinions of empire building. At this point in his journey, Marlow's idealistic image of empire as essentially a civilizing mission or exploration is beginning to crack, and the discovery of the corrupt Kurtz will shatter it completely. Marlow expects to find a fellow enlightened European, based on Kurtz's writings and reputation. Instead finds a man who is even more of a savage than the Congolese natives. Kurtz has gone more than just "native" in the Congo. In his greed for ivory, he has "ruined the district" with his methods for obtaining it, which include raids on other European ivory stations by the natives under Kurtz's control, and p lacing "heads
43 on stakesblack, dried, sunken, with closed eyelids" around his house to deter the natives from revolting against him (Conrad 157). At first, Marlow makes an attempt to justify even these heinous crimes by telling himself that "they only show ed that Mr. Kurtz lacked restraint in the gratification of his various lustssome small matter" (Conrad 157). However, after learning that even the chiefs of the Congolese are forced to crawl on their knees to speak to Kurtz, Marlow loses all respect for h im, noting that "those rebellious heads looked very subdued to [him] on their sticks" (Conrad 158). The cruelty and absurdity of greedy, armed Europeans takes away the dignity of the native Congolese. From this point onward, Kurtz is "that atrocious phanto m," "pitiful and appalling" to Marlow (Conrad 159). Everything Marlow has hoped for in the Congo easy money, a kindred benevolent spirit, lighthearted adventure, and imperial glory falls to pieces when he sees for whom he has really made this perilous jour ney and what has been done to the place and the people all in the name of ivory. Marlow's experiences with the native Congolese and with the now savage Kurtz destroy his nave conceptions of empire and colonialism. He reaches this point slowly, first rea lizing the fundamental humanity of the Congolese and eventually realizing the fundamental lack of humanity in Kurtz. Marlow returns to Britain completely disillusioned when it comes to the power of European empire: he no longer feels the glory and success of his country, but rather the pain and misery on which it is built. At the close of the novel, as Marlow ends his tale in the present day, the Thames seems "to lead into the heart of an immense
44 darkness" (Conrad 178). This is the darkness that Marlow sees overshadowing Europe once he has seen the horrors of empire. Women in Empire When Joseph Conrad's publisher, Fisher Unwin, was reading his first manuscript of Heart of Darkness Conrad insisted that the novel would have "no love interest in it and no wo man only incidentally" (McIntire 257). However, when he produced the finished novel years later, it included female figures who, despite their lack of "narratological or thematic attention" in the novel, nevertheless influence this simple story of the Cong o (McIntire 258). The primary role of these female figures is to exemplify the kind of religious whitewashing that protects European citizens from the harsh realities of their nations' empire building in Africa, as well as highlight the vast difference Mar low experiences between Europe and the Congo. These women have "remained nearly invisible because so few critics have chosen to examine their roles" (McIntire 258). This choice ignores the insight that the presence of Marlow's aunt, Kurtz's Intended, and K urtz's African lover can give us into the roles of women in the construction and maintenance of empire, as well as into empire's effect on the colonized. As the dominant male character of Heart of Darkness Marlow views European white women as his intelle ctual inferiors who must be protected from the darkness and dangers of empire. Like Edgar Huntly, Marlow doesn't believe that woman are able to handle the same knowledge as men, and believes that it is his duty to lie to women rather than allow anything ne gative to creep into their
45 safe European worlds. As in Edgar Huntly there is also a note of bitterness towards women in Heart of Darkness ; Marlow blames part of the colonial project on them: because European women believe that white men traveling to the C ongo will be "emissaries of light" to the natives there, these men are required to keep up this pretense and bury what they actually experience on the edges of empire. Marlow's aunt and the Intended "[function' for Marlow as [metonyms] for all women who ar e ignorant of the truth'his profound misanthropy for the population that remains in Europe centers on his scorn for their ignorance, such that his misanthropy parallels his misogyny" (McIntire 263). Marlow's reaction to his aunt's beliefs about his miss ion in the Congo is an excellent example of this pretense. As McIntire points out, Marlow reads his aunt's "indoctrination as a specifically feminine ignorance" (McIntire 262). After a lunch with his aunt during which she expresses joy that Marlow will be "an emissary of light, something like a lower sort of apostle" to the Congo, notes that It's queer how out of touch with truth women are. They live in a world of their own, and there has never been anything like it, and never can be. It is too beautifu l altogether, and if they were to set it up it would go to pieces before the first sunset. Some confounded fact we men have been living contentedly with ever since the day of creation would start up and knock the whole thing over. (Conrad 109) Marlow se es women as hopelessly idealistic, but also as necessarily so. Despite noting the ignorance of women, he believes that it must be maintained in order to maintain the background of empire: the home country and its denizens must
46 remain pure and protected fro m the taint of knowledge Marlow finds in the "heart of darkness." Later, when he returns from the Congo and must inform Kurtz's intended that her fianc is dead, Marlow pities her because she does not know what her beloved became during his stay in the Co ngo. Marlow fails to recognize that the Intended's ignorance is due to her social position as a white British woman. By this point, his bitterness it at its peak, and he begins to feel "dull anger stirring in [him]" towards her because of her continued ado ration of Kurtz's "greatness, of his generous mind, of his noble heart," none of which Marlow bore witness to (Conrad 177). Marlow feels "despair in [his] heart" for "that great and saving illusion" that makes her believe in Kurtz' goodness (Conrad 178). It seems that his belief in women's necessary and lovely ignorance is shaken, yet his next move is to preserve that ignorance again by lying to her about her fianc's last words. Marlow feels that it is his duty to maintain the purity and innocence of Euro pean women because they are "crucial for guarding and preserving the difference between Africa and Europe" (McIntire 258). This is what separates European women like the Intended and Marlow's aunt from Kurtz's African lover. The white European women are ke pt in ignorance and innocence, while the African woman is privy to every harsh reality of empire building. Marlow also compares the Intended with Kurtz' African lover, who, while far more imposing than the intended, is also "bedecked with powerless charms (Conrad 177). Their womanhood is not enough to save (in the case of the African woman) or to preserve (in the case of the Intended) the man they both love.
47 Marlow perpetuates the ignorance of women when he lies to the intended about Kurtz' last words. He lies not only to preserve the false faith and innocence of women in the "immense darkness" that surrounds him now that he has returned from the Congo (Conrad 178), but also to preserve the false image of empire building that women and Europe represent. Th e innocence of women fills him with despair, yet he feels pressure to keep the reality of empire from them so that they can continue to live in their fantasy world and maintain it for the rest of Europeans who never see the realities of empire. Despite Mar low's ambivalence towards the European project of economic empire building, he cannot undercut the place of European women as the foundations of European civilization and continuity, nor can he forgive them for their unintentional whitewashing of the reali ties of empire through their belief in its benevolent religious intentions. Unlike the Intended, Kurtz's African lover is a completely silent figure. When she faces Marlow's steamer full of white men traveling into the Congo, her face has "a tragic and fi erce aspect of wild sorrow and dumb pain mingled with the fear of some struggling, half shaped resolve", hinting at her complete helplessness in the face of the imperial powers she faces (Conrad 161). Marlow has a certain admiration for the African woman t hat he does not have for the Intended, perhaps because she is not and cannot be ignorant of the real effects of European empire building. He describes her as "savage and superb, wild eyed and magnificent; there was something ominous and stately in her deli berate progress" towards his boat (Conrad 160). Despite her ominous, commanding presence, she cannot keep Kurtz in the Congo and she cannot drive away the
48 steamer. Even though she appears powerful and mysterious "like the wilderness itself," the words of K urtz's Russian disciple who fears her show how easily she can be subdued by the Europeans: "'If she had offered to come aboard I really think I would have tried to shoot her,'" he says (Conrad 161). Like the rest of the Congolese, the woman is powerless to stop the exploitation of her land and people by the far more militarily and technologically formidable Europeans. This incident highlights the fundamental difference between the African woman and a European woman like the Intended. While the Intended is completely harmless and even pathetic, the African woman is nearly as frightening as her male counterparts. Because she is a native, she does not merit the protection that the Intended does. The duties that the European men feel towards her sex are cancell ed out by the color of her skin. To Marlow, European women represent not the harsh reality of empire, but the whitewashed faade experienced by most Europeans and perpetuated in his mind by women themselves instead of by men like himself who keep them she ltered from the truth. Instead of ending his complicity in women's' ignorance, Marlow perpetuates their uninformed beliefs about the purpose of imperialism and what goes into the creation of an empire because he has been trained to do so in order to preser ve the empire. Marlow also implies that he sees women as the primary purveyors of the idea of religious salvation within the empire. Since he views religious salvation as ridiculous, this is another way in which he sees women as obscuring the disturbing tr uth of empire. They are dressing up imperial expansion as a benign and benevolent religious mission. Marlow's aunt is clearly
49 under the impression that her nephew is going to the Congo on some sort of moral or religious mission. The Intended believes that Kurtz went to the Congo as a sort of moral crusader whose "goodness shone in every act" and would become a prime example of how to behave in the colonies (Conrad 177). Marlow elides the fact that before he physically encountered Kurtz, he too was under t he impression that Kurtz was a moral crusader. He himself had much more admiration for Kurtz than was warranted. The better part of Heart of Darkness consists of Marlow obsessing over what the great Kurtz will be like, and of whether "this man, who had com e out equipped with moral ideas of some sort, would climb to the top after all and how he would set about his work when there" (Conrad 128). It does not even occur to Marlow prior to meeting Kurtz that the man might not be as great as his reputation implie s. Marlow is just as ignorant and easily taken in as the women are, yet he mocks their ignorance while minimizing his guilt for his own. As close as Marlow gets to admitting his own gullibility is once admitting that he "would not have gone so far as to fi ght for Kurtz, but [he] went for him near enough to a lie" (Conrad 124). Marlow's mixed feelings of pity and anger towards the Intended, and through her towards British women in general, is founded primarily on the fact that he "must" lie to her about Kur tz' last words in order to preserve her innocence about empire, which he despises to begin with. Marlow expresses an extremely strong opinion about lying early on in the novel: You know I hate, detest, and can't bear a lie, not because I am straighter th an the rest of us, but simply because it appalls me. There is a taint of
50 death, a flavour of mortality in lies which is exactly what I hate and detest in the world what I want to forget. It makes me miserable and sick, like biting into something rotten would do. Temperament, I suppose. (Conrad 124) Marlow is unable to tell the Intended the truth because "it would have been too dark too dark altogether" (Conrad 178). More clearly than any of his previous actions or words, this action makes him one of tho se responsible for the ignorance of women in the empire and therefore of empire's perpetuation. He feels bitterness towards the Intended because she has "made" him "miserable and sick" with his own lie, even though after telling it he sees that "the heaven s do not fall for such a trifle" as his lie (Conrad 178). Somehow, in his own mind, Marlow has managed to make lying a greater evil than anything he saw in the Congo, and has managed to make women responsible for the perpetuation of lies about the establis hment and maintenance of the empire. The ignorance of women is necessary for the continuity of European empire. Not only do they provide a stable homeland full of indoctrinated imperialists where European wealth can be accumulated, they also produce more E uropean imperialists to carry on the colonial project. These ends could not be accomplished were women to become disillusioned about empire building like Marlow has. Taking the work on Joseph Conrad as a whole, it seems that Marlow's stance probably mirro rs that of the author. Conrad's novels contain few prominent female characters, and those that do appear are not strong, intelligent, or independent examples of women, but rather women very much like the
51 Intended and the African lover. Conrad's women are a lways unable to protect themselves, much less anyone else, and are usually in need of the protection, whether physical or emotional, of men. Whereas Conrad is ambivalent about imperialism, colonial exploitation, and other postcolonial issues, he expresses just one opinion of women, and it is not favorable. Like Edgar Huntly, Heart of Darkness offers many different readings and interpretations, the most important of which is Marlow's journey through the Congo as a journey towards understanding the realit ies of empire. Marlow's evolving understanding of the Congolese natives and his daunting encounter with Kurtz bring him to a better understanding of the oppression and cruelty caused by European empire building and prompts him to criticize the colonial pro ject; meanwhile his opinions of women are examples of how he perpetuates imperialism.
52 Conclusion: The Machinations of Empire "Though I do not expect that the terror of that island will ever altogether leave me, at most times it lies far in the back of my mind, a mere distant cloud, a memory and a faint distrust; but there are times when the little cloud spreads until it obscures the whole sky. Then I look about me at my fellow men. And I go in fear." The Island of Doctor Moreau While working on this pro ject, I read several novels and short stories recommended to me by peers and professors, some contemporary to Heart of Darkness and some to Edgar Huntly Having finished the majority of this thesis, one novella stands out more than any other outside fictio n that I read: H.G. Wells' The Island of Doctor Moreau written in 1896, three years before Heart of Darkness first appeared serialized in Blackwood's Magazine The Island of Doctor Moreau tells the story of a shipwrecked British gentleman, Edward Prendick who is picked up by a mysterious ship owned by the exiled Dr. Moreau, and taken to the doctor's private Caribbean island. There he witnesses the results of the doctor's unethical experimental vivisections on various species of animals. The doctor's goal seems to be to create human/animal hybrids through painful surgeries on imported animals, most of which he controls, but some of which have wandered into the island's wilderness. Some of these form their own crippled society that attempts to uphold the hum anizing rules Moreau has taught them, while some become dangerously feral. The majority of the novella consists of Prendick's struggle to deal with Moreau and his assistant Montgomery, to avoid being killed by the hybrids or "beastmen", and eventually to b urn Moreau's facilities to the ground and escape back to England via ship.
53 Most scholarship that mentions The Island of Doctor Moreau concentrates on the story's relationship to the contemporary debate about the ethics of vivisection, but I found the wor k much more widely applicable. The work can be taken as a colonial and postcolonial metaphor: Moreau has colonized the island and bent its inhabitants to his own will. He exploits them, terrorizes them, and thinks of them as less than human. Prendick is a figure like Marlow or Edgar: aligned with the colonial forces but not a colonizing force himself. Like Marlow, he provides an intermediary voice for the reader between the colonizer and the natives, feeling towards the natives the way the reader might but also criticizing the colonizer's actions. Like Edgar, he shows the reader the changes a marginalized figure like himself undergoes in occupying a liminal space between the native and the colonizer. Wells' novella makes explicit several of the points I ho ped to make about Heart of Darkness and Edgar Huntly ; because the novella has a science fiction slant, it is able to take some of the more ephemeral anxieties of empire and make them concrete, instead of exploring them in the cautious, more abstract way th at Conrad's and Brockden Brown's works do. While the novella provides little insight into the treatment of women, it makes very explicit points about the relationship of white to non white men in a postcolonial context. Prendick's feelings towards the Be astmen are almost exactly the same as the feelings of white men towards natives in Edgar Huntly and Heart of Darkness Prendick experiences the familiar mixture of fear, disgust, pity, and admiration for the Beastmen as Edgar does for the Delawares and Mar low does for the
54 Congolese natives. Prendick first sees Montgomery's personal assistant, a, Ape Man named M'Ling, and notes in the darkness that his eyes are luminous, which comes to Prendick as "a stark inhumanity" (Wells 110). This glimpse causes fear to "[strike] down through all [his] adult thoughts and feelings, and for a moment the forgotten horrors of childhood [come] back to [his]mind", a visceral response to this look at a primitive, savage, inhuman man (Wells 110). Upon his first encounter with wh at he learns later to be Ox Men on the boat to the island, Prendick experiences "a spasm of disgust" when he looks at their faces (Wells 116). Later on, once he is an inmate of the island and begins to infer what sorts of horrific experiments Moreau is pe rforming there, Prendick runs into the wilderness and is stalked by the most fearsome of the Beastmen. He sees the Leopard Man drinking at a stream, and "the apparition of this grotesque half bestial creature[populates] the stillness of the afternoon for [him]", the "dull ferocity of [its] countenance" terrifying him (Wells 129). Stalked through the woods, Prendick takes flight and "completely [loses his] head with fear" (Prendick 135), ending up "[wheeling] around upon it and [striking] at it as it [comes ] up at" him, leaving the creature unconscious on the island's beach (Wells 136). However, after this encounter Prendick's feelings towards the Beastmen begin to change. He has already expressed something like admiration for some of the Beastmen's traits : their sharp eyes, swiftness, and strength for example, despite the "grotesque ugliness" that seems invariable among them (Wells 128). When Prendick hears the vivisection of a puma begin, he is deeply horrified, despite his rational belief that "surely, a nd especially to another scientific man,
55 there was nothing so horrible in vivisection" (Wells 124). Prendick finds himself unable to stand the puma's cries, but notes that "had [he] known such pain was in the next room, and had it been dumb, [he] believes [he has] thought since [he] could have stood it well enough" (Wells 125). This acknowledgement of man's ability to ignore suffering that he does not himself bear witness to is familiar, and important to postcolonial works: in Edgar Huntly Edgar finds hims elf desperate to get away from dying Delawares so that he no longer has to think about their suffering, and in Heart of Darkness Marlow is undisturbed by the idea of the mistreatment of the Congolese until he witnesses it himself. Prendick undergoes a si milar change throughout the novella. He feels a deep dislike for the mistreatment and torture of the Beastmen (like Marlow), but he also develops an intense capacity for violence when he needs it to protect himself (like Edgar). He recognizes humanity in t he Beastmen, noting that "they may once have been animals. But never before [has he] seen an animal trying to think" (Wells 157). Also like Marlow and Edgar, Prendick becomes a critic of Moreau's pseudo colonial project, albeit a more explicitly damning critic than Brockden Brown's or Conrad's narrators. During Moreau's dialogue explaining his reasons for humanizing the Beastmen, Prendick vocally disagrees with Moreau's assertion that "this store men and women set on pleasure and pain, Prendick, is the ma rk of the beast upon them, the mark of the beat from which they came" (Wells 163). Prendick thinks of pain as something that ties him to the Beastmen, something to which they can relate to just as well as he can, not as something
56 that he should attempt to suppress or that should separate him from animals. Huntly and Marlow come to this same realization, Huntly when he feels sympathetic anguish at seeing a Delaware suffer, and Marlow when he sees that the death of a Congolese man is just as horrifying and sa ddening as the death of any white man. Prendick's final judgment on Moreau is that Had Moreau had any intelligible object I could have sympathised at least a little with him. I am not so squeamish about pain as that. I could have forgiven him a little e ven had his motive been hate. But he was so irresponsible, so utterly careless. His curiosity, his mad, aimless investigations, drove him on, and the things were thrown out to live a year or so, to struggle and blunder and suffer; at last to die painful ly. (Wells 185) It is "the realisation of the unspeakable aimlessness of things upon the island" that makes Prendick hate the place and hate Moreau (Wells 184). This carelessness and abandonment is something that is felt in the United States during the ti me of Edgar Huntly ; like the Beastmen, there is some desire for freedom, but there is also the terrible state of being free in a dangerous and unnavigable place after it is achieved. The wanton attitude towards suffering, as well as Moreau's loss of human compassion are things that Marlow witnesses in the Congo during its rule by Europe. Reading The Island of Doctor Moreau helped to crystallize the goals of this project for me. The concerns of the postcolonial condition are obviously dealt
57 with more eas ily through metaphor, and the postcolonial metaphor can be easy to read, as in Heart of Darkness or more difficult, as in Edgar Huntly However, the experiences of postcoloniality in these two novels and in H.G. Wells' novella are very similar. They highl ight the marginalized voices of men like Edgar Huntly and Charlie Marlow, who are far enough removed from imperialistic and colonial forces to criticize them, but close enough that they are associated primarily with imperial power. Edgar and Marlow both ex perience deep ambivalence towards the native populations of America and the Congo, respectively. In Edgar's case, this ambivalence leads him into an identity struggle between his ideals and his safety. In Marlow's case, his ambivalence leads him to questio n the ethics of European empire building overseas. The experiences of these two men with native populations exemplify postcolonial problems in a wider context: Edgar's struggle parallels the difficulties of the new United States in the late 1700s, while Ma rlow's shows us the disillusionment that comes with realizing the true price of colonialism. Edgar and Marlow both have experiences with women in empire, figures who are even more marginalized than these two men. Women are saddled with some of the blame of the postcolonial condition, as well as being used as an excuse for it: they are seen both as ill equipped to handle the realities of empire, and as hope for the future of postcolonial countries. Like The Island of Doctor Moreau Edgar Huntly and Heart o f Darkness both end on notes of uncertainty. The future of Edgar's United States and Marlow's Britain cannot be determined, and the two characters are left in states of anxious foreboding. After their ordeals, they and their countries, like Prendick,
58 do no t expect that the terrors of the postcolonial condition will ever entirely leave them.
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