Author Bias in Things Fall Apart and Heart of Darkness

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Authors often write not only to tell a story, but to communicate personal ideas and opinions to the readers. Even more personal beliefs can be read through the bias that the author uses, often the product of society or race. In the novella Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad displays his opinions through the attitudes and actions of his main characters Marlow and Mr. Kurtz. Similarly, Chinua Achebe shows his personal beliefs through the character Okonkwo in Things Fall Apart. Both authors, whether intentionally or not, show their opinions on the relations between Native Africans and European colonists in the Victorian era, and the races themselves. Conrad’s main character Marlow is the narrator for most of the story in Heart of Darkness. He is presented as a well-intentioned person, and along his travels he is shocked by the cruelties that he sees inflicted on the native people. Though he is seemingly benevolent and kindly, Marlow shows the racism and ignorance of Conrad and in fact of the majority of white people in his era, in a more subtle way. Marlow uses words to describe the blacks that, though generally accepted in his time, were slanderous and crude. He recalls that some of the first natives he saw in the Congo looked at him “with that complete, deathlike indifference of unhappy savages” (80; part 1). Marlow casually refers to the Africans with the most offensive of language: “Strings of dusty niggers arrived and departed…” (83; part 1). To Marlow, and thus to Conrad, the Africans are savages, dogs, devils, and criminals. Even the stories that Conrad creates for Marlow to narrate are twisted and false. The natives that Marlow deals with in the book are described as cannibals, and they are even given dialogue that affirms th... ... middle of paper ... ...rejudiced and biased assumptions that Heart of Darkness perpetuates. Written in different times, and through different perspectives, Heart of Darkness and Things Fall Apart present entirely opposing views of the Victorian Era colonization. Marlow and Kurtz display the racism of white Europeans through both ignorance and cruelty. Okonkwo exemplifies the anger and sorrow that Africans felt at having their homes and customs destroyed. Both authors had personal bias and specific motives when writing their works; though the novels can be independently educational, it is only through the study of both these and other perspectives that clear conclusions can be drawn. Works Cited Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. First Anchor Books Edition. New York, NY: Random House, Inc., 1959. Print. Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. New York, NY: Penguin Group, 1910. Print.

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