In The Rubber Coils

Source Analisis


Summary of Research

'In The Rubber Coils' is a visual representation of the state the Congo was in. It was drawn in 1906 by Linley Sambourne. In 1885, King Leopold II of Belgium (represented by the snake) took control of a large area in the Congo and began a rubber and ivory plant there (mostly to avoid taxes) which was controlled by himself, the British and and India. He used native slaves to power the rubber and ivory plants, and sold the material gain for a 1000% profit, which was never delivered to the Congolese people. The people weren't just enslaved, they were tortured; punished for being Congolese. Woman would be sexually harassed regularly by the European guards, while their husbands would be at work. By the end of King Leopold II's reign in 1908, over 10 million indigenous people died. 'In The Rubber Coils' is a secondary source because it depicts an event, and is not an event in itself. The drawing shows the negatives of imperialism. The man is getting every last drop squeezed out of him. He is helpless and can't fight back. This summarises the events in the Congo at the time.

Leopold II

Author Perspective & Bias

The artist of 'In The Rubber Coils' was born in England. He has an outside perspective of the matter and was never involved with any of the events. He probably created it to shine light on the matter, as when the drawing was published, not many people knew what was happening in the Congo, as social technology as very basic. Sambourne didn't have a bias. He wasn't part of the events. He used knowledge and facts to back up his drawings. 'In The Rubber Coils' is an extremely reliable source.

Congolese People During the Genocide


In 'In THe Rubber Coils', the snake is Leopold II, The man is the slave and the woman fleeing is representing the women and children, who could not help prevent the torture. The snake is taking everything out of the man. The snake is strong and powerful. Its length is an indication of how long the snake can last, and how long the torture of indigenous Congolese people happened. The man's facial expressions show absolute agony. He looks tortured, overworked and helpless. He is trying to flee himself of the coils, but the snake is way more superior. No one can help the man, and no one can stop Leopold II. The man's body expressions describes the state Congo was in. The fact that the man is on his own, without back up or help, is another symbol of the drawing.

Personal Judgement

I think that 'In The Rubber Coils' is an really precise summary of the state the Congo was in. Every detail of the man in the image replicates the slaves, and portraying Leopold II as a snake, perfectly describes his actions. Without any writing or research, anyone could understand what the drawing is saying. I knew nothing about the oppression of the Congo until studying this image. It taught me a part of history that i had never heard of before.


Dean Pavlakis, Congo Free State, Yale University, March 2010, website, 28.4.2013,

No author named, Belgium Congo, Wikipedia, May 2013, website, 28.4.2013,

B .A. Robinson, The Congo Free State Genocide, May 2005, website, 28.4.2013.