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Essay on Heart Of Darkness

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Joseph Conrad's novel Heart of Darkness uses character development and character analysis to really tell the story of European colonization. Within Conrad's characters one can find both racist and colonialist views, and it is the opinion, and the interpretation of the reader which decides what Conrad is really trying to say in his work.

Chinua Achebe, a well known writer, once gave a lecture at the University of Massachusetts about Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, entitled "An image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness." Throughout his essay, Achebe notes how Conrad used Africa as a background only, and how he "set Africa up as a foil to Europe," (Achebe, p.251) while he also "projects the image of Africa as the ‘other world,' the antithesis of Europe and therefore of civilizations" (Achebe, p.252). By his own interpretations of the text, Achebe shows that Conrad eliminates "The African as a human factor," thereby "reducing Africa to the role of props" (Achebe, p.257).

In supporting these accusations against Conrad, Achebe cites specific examples from the text, while also, pointing out that there is a lack of certain characteristics among the characters. Achebe then compares the descriptions of the Intended and the native woman. Explaining that the savage "fulfills a structural requirement of the story: a savage counterpart to the refined European woman," and also that the biggest "difference is the one implied in that author's bestowal of human expression to the one and the withholding of it from the other" (Achebe p.255). This lack of human expression and human characteristics is what Achebe says contributes to the overflowing amount of racism within Conrad's novel. Human expression, is one of few thi...


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... himself. It seems that Achebe was closed-minded in his essay regarding racism. He did not propose any other possibilities regarding the novel, only to say that a conceivable reason for this is that "it is the desire…in Western psychology to set African up as a foil to Europe" (Achebe, p.251). Achebe only set forth his views and did not take into account other interpretations of the same passage, as did Saravan.

If everyone accepted what one man said to be the truth out world would be completely turned upside down (and if you believe what I say to be the truth, then you are lost). The individual must decide for himself and only himself. Both Chinua Achebe and C.P. Saravan did just that. When Achebe found Conrad to be a racist, he said so. When Saravan found Achebe to be misleading, he said so. I found bother to be misleading to the reader, and I said so.


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