In literature, contrasting places are used by certain authors as a way of representing opposed forces or ideas that are central to the meaning of the work. We see this used in the novella “Heart Of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad as he applies the jungles of Africa and Europe to develop the concept of civilization and the heart of darkness respectively. However many critics such as Chinua Achebe and Karin Hannson believe that Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is a racist work displaying the mistreatment of African natives being below Marlow and Kurtz.In "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad 's Heart of Darkness," Chinua Achebe criticizes Joseph Conrad for his racist stereotypes towards the continent and people of Africa. Despite this, Conrad
(4) Watts, Cedric. Conrad's "Heart of Darkness": A Critical and Contextual Discussion. Mursia International. 1977.
The Heart of Darkness, a complex text was written by Joseph Conrad around the 19th century, when Europeans were colonizing Africa for wealth and power and were attempting to spread their culture and religion in Africa. It was also a period in which women were not allowed to participate in worldly affairs. Therefore, the text deals with issues such as racism, European imperialism, and misogyny. This essay will look at the different themes in the novel and argue whether or not The Heart of Darkness is a work of art.
Humanity of the Primitive in Heart of Darkness, Dialect of Modernism and Totem and Taboo
The Heart of Darkness took place in the Congo during the Imperialism Era. This era led up to the rise of the Victorian Era. Both eras were ideal for expansion and growth. Through Conrad’s experience of travelling in this era he wanted to share with the reader. It motivated his story to be written but it was on witnessing the treatment of cruelty of natives on his journey. Imperialism, from the perspective of modern progressivism has been denigrated as inhumane, cruel and self-aggrandizing. (Rayment).
In the heart of Africa lies darkness beyond that of night. Africa, still mostly undeveloped and covered in wilderness has a beast hidden within waiting to be let out. It is widely known that the primal instincts of a human are savage. In Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, darkness is not just found in the pigment of one’s skin; it is found in the primal instinct of all human beings, and every human starts with a heart of darkness.
Unfortunately, the human race has demonstrated its cruelty and inhumanity throughout time. This has been especially horrific in dealings between races. Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness illustrates the preponderance of European racism and its attended brutality in Africa. By looking at the Africans as a group rather than as individuals, dehumanizing them and ultimately destroying entire cultures the Europeans in Heart of Darkness show the absolute atrocity of man's inhumanity to man.
In the Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, the motif of savagery is listed throughout the book. On page six more specifically we see the passage listed on the cover page. This passage was the first time the narrator, Marlow used the word “savagery” with such passion that the reader has to wonder who he really is speaking about. Could he be talking about the Europeans who thought they were agents of civilization or was he talking about those who had not civilized yet in Africa (natives)? Of course since this passage is on the first few pages of the novel, and it is the first time Marlow is talking about “savages”, “wild men”, and “abomination” many assume he is speaking about the natives in the Congo. Marlow was a
Conrad, Joseph. “Heart of Darkness” Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism. Ed. Ross C. Murfin. Boston: Bedford, 1996.
Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. The Longman Anthology of British Literature. Ed. David Damrosch, New York: Pearson. Copyright 2004.