Discuss Anyone of the Following by any Two Modernist Writers. Imperialism. For many writers living at the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth century Empire was a key topic. Writers like Robert Louis Stevenson told tales of the adventures in these far off lands, others like J.G. Frazer wrote anthropological studies on the natives, but others were more concerned about the acts that were occurring in these countries, men like Joseph Conrad. At this time the worlds most powerful nations and individuals were all focusing on building up Empires.
There were scrabbles for too little land. The majority of people were keen on the Empire as it brought in wealth, "I couldn't help asking him once what he meant by coming there at all. "To make money, of course. What do you think?" he said scornfully". This greed and hostility due to the squabbles for land was central to many of the events that surrounded the modernist writers, "The victory of Sinn Fein in the 1918 election was due largely to its policy of strenuously opposing the conscription of Irish males to fight in World War I". This is what Joyce describes in Ulysses, so the colonies were not always many hundreds of miles away and the slavery was not always so obvious.
The war and its effect on Ireland was always a key concern for Joyce. He did not support it and Tom Stoppard once remarked, "What did you do in the Great War, Mr Joyce?"I wrote Ulysses. What did you do?" He was unconcerned about the politics of the war, in that he did not care for the Empire, but the casualties and the human suffering that the war caused distressed Joyce immensely. He highlights this suffering at a number of points in his great work "Ulysses". One of the most effective is when he has his character Simon Dedalus lecturing to a class of young boys at school, "Pyrrhus... a disappointed bridge".
This is his description of the Greek hero, Pyrrhus, holding a bridge where many died. The fact that he calls it a disappointed bridge shows how unworthy he considers it for the amount of lives that it took. Earlier Dedalus thinks on ancient battles and uses the terms, "I hear the ruin of all space, shattered glass and toppling masonry, and time one livid flame". Although Joyce uses these terms as a description of the destruction that was reaped during the great battles of history the image that is portrayed is that of modern warfare. Again he is highlighting these tragedies of warfare, it is as if he is pleading with the children in the class so that it will not happen again. Joyce also uses the recurrent theme of a one legged sailor in the streets of Dublin.
The sailor has been wounded in battle and Joyce uses him as a portrayal of the human agony that war causes. "A one legged sailor clutched himself round MacConnell's corner... he growled unamiable "for England... home and beauty". This character appears at various points throughout the novel. Joyce never lets the reader forget these victims of war.
Joyce uses the character of Father Conmee to voice his worries about how people reacted to this generation "If I had served my God as I had served my king He would not have abandoned me in my old days". Again Joyce bothers that these people have been wounded fighting for an Empire that was not really theirs. The character of the citizen voices these sentiments in the Cyclopes chapter. He appears at a couple of points through the novel, he is a staunchly nationalistic element in the novel, as his name hints. He voices many of Joyce's sentiments on war, "Bloody wars, says I". .
Sometimes he does seem to be ridiculed by the author for his overly nationalistic sentiments, but this is because Joyce also does not believe that a revolution would free Ireland from its colonial ties to Britain. He highlights this point with the statue of Parnell in the square in Dublin. Parnell is a symbol of the failure of Irish nationalism. In some ways the whole novel can be seen as an outcry against the deeply routed ideals of epic warfare. The novel ridicules the ideas of heroes and great victories. Its title, Ulysses, reminiscent of these ideals, is used to describe a novel about "non-epic" everyday lives.
This turns the idea of the epic on its head. Also the images that the novel opens and closes with are in the same vein. It opens with Dedalus, Haines and Mulligan in a tower that was used as a lookout by the English during the Napoleonic wars, a reminder of previous wars. The novel closes with a quote from Joyce "Trieste-Zurich-Paris, 1914-1921".
This was Joyce's travel, trying to avoid the war. The fact that the book is contained by two images of war, and is labelled with a title that summons up the idea of epic battles shows Joyce's concern about war. Joyce was not only concerned about Irish soldiers being sent off to Europe to fight. The idea of Ireland being colonised by the English was also a concern for Joyce.
He alludes to this throughout Ulysses. Joyce's main device to show this colonisation and its forms is the character of Haines. He shows him to be a representation of the Empire and colonisation from the outset of the novel. "He was raving all night about a black panther, Where is his gun case?" Here Joyce shows the Englishman having his dreams of Empire, of far off colonies and hunting. Haines acts like a colonised, or an anthropologist. Haines conforms to the stereotype of a Frazer-like anthropologist.
He first captures the Irish language, "I thought it was Irish, she said, by the sound of it. Are you from the west sir? -I am an Englishman... He thinks we should speak Irish in Ireland". He also tries to capture their culture; "I intend to make a collection of your sayings if you will let me". These have been some of the most effective uses of language to attain Empire since Rome, and here Haines can be seen using them in Ireland.
This capture of culture by a colonising nature takes away the sense of national identity from the natives. Haines symbolizes this, as he is the only character in the novel that speaks fluent Gaelic, and Mulligan cannot remember Irish folklore, which Haines has been collecting for his book. Joyce even goes so far as to suggest that Dedalus is like Caliban from Shakespeare's Tempest, the classical colonised native character. Joyce highlights the theme of colonisation at various points throughout the novel. On page 324, lieutenant colonel Hes saltine and some other dignitaries are driving through the streets of Dublin, in a parade in front of all the Irish.
At one point they encounter John Howard Parnell, the brother of the Irish revolutionary, "John Howard Parnell translated a white bishop quietly and his grey claw went up again to his forehead whereat it rested". Parnell tries to ignore this parade of English power through the streets of his native town. Joyce also alludes to Dublin not being the centre of Ireland. He points out that London is now the seat of government in Ireland. He uses the character of Father Conmee to illustrate this point, when he meets an Irish MP's wife in the street, "And Mr. Sheehy himself? Still in London...
A wonderful man really... He begged to be remembered to Mr. David Sheehy M.P". Father Conmee is a social climber, and he considers that this man who has parliamentary contacts in London is the most important man in his parish. Here can be seen the influence that London wielded over Ireland. The fact that Dublin is no longer the most important place in Ireland, but London, is what Joyce is hinting towards. The idea of Ireland being a colony of England, with its men conscripted to fight in a war that did not really concern them.
Joyce saw the inhabitants of Dublin like a group of Caliban's, colonised and forced into labour. Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness is a very different case from Joyce's Ulysses. Obviously it is not based in his native country, as he was Polish, but he travelled on merchant vessels, first from Marseilles and then from Britain. He saw Empire in action on these voyages, what he saw concerned him. He approves of the idea of empire but he questions the methods and acts that occur in the colonies, "We all read Conrad's Heart of Darkness for its ambiguity, not for its call for a more authentic, manly, and violent imperialism". Conrad compares the Empires to the Roman Empire in its glory, "Imagine the feelings of a commander of a fine... trireme in the Mediterranean... or think of a decent young citizen in a toga... to mend his fortunes".
Conrad uses Marlow to put forward the ideas that the Empire is glorious, that it is a piece of the Roman world that has been passed down as their inheritance. Marlow expresses the sentiments that colonies can make man money and can supply adventure, and for these reasons, the basic idea behind Empire, he supports it. Conrad's dialectic, the language that he uses, cannot be considered as racist, as he is only using the terms that were in common use at that time. But Marlow also highlights something else for Conrad, "Conrad's use of an internal narrator in Heart of Darkness creates an irony in the story of imperialism". Conrad uses Marlow's narration as a literary device to highlight his own mixed feelings on the colonies. Although he feels that the money that the colonies bring in is a good thing, he also feels that it attracts the wrong people, "I couldn't help asking him once what he meant by coming there at all.
The mentality that Marlow encounters in Africa is similar to the Englishman in Defoe's Captain Singleton; he is hell bent on extracting gold at any cost, just as the colonists are extracting as much ivory from the natives as possible. Conrad's main concern is the methods and lawlessness of the colonies. "But look how precarious the position is - and why? Because the method is unsound". The methods that concern him in the colonies are the senseless killing of the natives, the bribery of tribes for ivory and the corruption of the managers and the European workers in these colonies. As he travels to the camp, Marlow sees examples of the brutish authority that was used by the colonisers.
"One white man in an unbuttoned uniform... Was looking after the upkeep of the road... Can't say I saw any road or upkeep, unless the body of a middle-aged Negro, with a bullet-hole in the forehead... may be considered as a permanent improvement". Conrad disproves of these acts of senseless brutality in the colonies. It is ambiguous whether he is worried about the natives or just that the killing is a waste of resources. Conrad's novel does not have a definite conclusion; he does not say whether the white man has brought this darkness to the colonies, or whether the darkness is a reference to the natives.
It can be argued either way; he highlights the corruption of these Europeans in the colonies. When the manager talks of one of Kurtz's men, of whom he does not approve, says, "Get him hanged! Why not? Anything- anything can be done in this country". Conrad does not just light on this particular incident, at various points he sees the managers trying to claw for more influence in the colony. Marlow hears in a discussion that the most responsible people are not in charge here, but instead those that have the constitution to survive the climate and other dangers.
Thus Conrad shows the darkness to be something that the Europeans have brought with them to the colony. Their civilizing mission to bring enlightenment to the natives actually only shows the darkness at the heart of the colonising movement. When Marlow first goes for an interview with the company he is to work for he says that he felt as if he was being let in on some conspiracy, "there was something ominous in the atmosphere... Mort uri te saltant". Even at the top of the ladder this company seems to be corrupt, again he hearkens back to the Roman Empire, but this time he highlights some of their more brutal practices of the Empire.
Conrad does not have any certain conclusion, he does not give enough away to bias the reading either way. It is entirely possible that he has an ambiguous view on Empire, that the idea behind Empire is good, but that in practice it has failed and has become corrupt. The ideas of Empire vary in writers of this period, from James George Frazer's almost fascist anthropological study of cultures asking for a harsher attitude to be taken towards the natives. To Joyce's damnation of the current practices of the colonisers towards the colonised. His passionate dislike of the greed of those that are controlling the Empire.
Conrad takes the middle ground but could fall either way; he could be condemned as a racist, or he could be seen as supporting the natives. "No, they were not inhuman... The thought of your remote kinship with this wild and passionate uproar". Conrad leaves his final conclusion on Empire unspoken, as Africa was once a blank space on the map so Conrad's conclusion is left blank. Words 2,085.
Biography "Heart of Darkness". Joseph Conrad. Penguin. 1995 "Literary Theory: A practical introduction". Michael Ryan. Blackwell.
1999 "Ulysses". James Joyce. Penguin. 1992 "The Eighteenth Century Novel". John Richet ti. Cambridge.