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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As far as china Achebe's article of Heart of Darkness is considered, I disagree with his narrow approach towards Joseph Conrad's novel. Achebe does not take into account that Heart of Darkness is narrated from the perspective of the main characters Marlow who has never been exposed to the African culture before. As a result, Marlow does not aware of the African's way of living and also their traditions. The book contains several racist thoughts towards the Africans, but it also provides a deep sharp criticism towards the Europeans as well. Although the discrimination towards the Africana is obvious in the novel, but the readers must be aware of the historical text in which the novel was written.
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.
Achebe, Chinua. "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness." The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism. Ed. Vincent B. Leitch. New York: Norton, 2001. 1783-1794.
In 1975, celebrated Nigerian author Chinua Achebe (Things Fall Apart, 1958) gave a lecture at the University of Massachusetts condemning Heart of Darkness as "an offensive and totally deplorable" book that should not be considered a work of art. He believes that it has contributed to Western discrimination against Africa and Africans. In his words, "The question is whether a novel which celebrates this dehumanization, which depersonalizes a portion of the human race, can be called a great work of art. My answer is: No, it cannot." He then went on to discuss the Western tendency toward a reflexive discrimination against Africa. His speech ended with a challenge to his listeners to fight against the unthinking racism of the West against Africans.
Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness shows the disparity between the European ideal of civilization and the reality of it, displayed by the domination, torture, exploitation and dehumanization of the African people. Conrad often emphasizes the idea of what is civilized versus what is primitive or savage. While reading the novel, the reader can picture how savage the Europeans seem. They are cruel and devious towards the very people they are supposed to be helping.
Achebe, Chinua. An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness. New York: Wylie Agency, 2006. Print.
"I don't want to bother you much with what happened to me personally,' [Conrad] began, showing in this remark the weakness of many tellers of tales who seem so often unaware of what their audience would most like to hear" (Conrad, 9). Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad's best-known work, has been examined on many bases more than I can possibly list here, but including imperialism, colonialism, and racism. I would reason that all bases of analysis are perfectly acceptable through which to critique Conrad's novella, or any piece of writing. I would reason this, were some of these bases mainly, racism not taken to an extreme level. In arguing racism, many critics seem to take Heart of Darkness as Conrad's unwavering view on Africa, Africans, life, or whatever else one may please to take it as. I, therefore, propose that Heart of Darkness be taken for what it truly is: a work of fiction set in late 19th century Europe and Africa.
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad is one of the most widely recognized and acclaimed novellas written. But with fame and recognition comes controversy, which is clearly demonstrated by the broad interpretations of the book. Many people believe Heart of Darkness is racist, while others believe the book is perfectly civil. Chinua Achebe, one of Africa's most renowned novelists, strongly believes that the book is dehumanizing and racist; I agree with him, to a certain extent. Three of the most prominent ways that Achebe discusses Conrad’s racism is by the way the African people are portrayed, the African culture, and the comparison of Europe to Africa.
...identally, Conrad distances himself from the main narrator and creates a deep persona by writing a frame story, which is why Conrad and Marlow probably differ greatly in some opinions. Marlow may have exhibited some racist traits, but Conrad removed his personal voice from parts of the narration in order to ironically prove that he did not agree with the statements being told. In thematic parallelism with the novel, was Achebe truly disgusted by Conrad’s “racist” undertones or did he too just have a “fascination of the abomination” that was presented through Marlow’s persona?
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad is very clearly critical of imperialism. This is abundantly evident from the first pages, to the last, and everywhere in between. Marlow’s begins the journey as naive as the rest of Europe in his time, but is shocked by the horrors of colonialism. Conrad gives the reader a very negative view of imperialism through the setting, and actions of his characters. However, he is not entirely sympathetic of the African people, as he tends to dehumanize them throughout the novella.
In the article "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness," Chinua Achebe criticizes Joseph Conrad for his racist stereotypes towards the people of Africa. He claims that Conrad broadcasted the "dominant image of Africa in the Western imagination" rather than portraying the continent in its true form (Achebe 13). Africans were portrayed in Conrad's novel as inhuman savages with no language other than sound and with no "other occupations besides merging into the evil forest or materializing out of it simply to plague Marlow" (Achebe 7). To Joseph Conrad, the Africans were not just characters in his story, but rather props. After reading Achebe’s famous essay and Conrad’s novella I’ve come to side with Achebe. Conrad “was a thoroughgoing racist”; Heart of Darkness platforms this clearly. Throughout the novella Conrad describes and represents the Africans and Africa itself in a patronizing and racist way.
Heart of Darkness is a story in which racism presents itself so deliberately that, for many, the dilemma of race must be tackled before anything else in the book may be dealt with. Conrad used derogatory, outdated and offensive terminology for devaluation of people’s color as savages. This use of language disturbs many readers who read this book.
* Watts, Cedric. “‘A Bloody Racist’: About Achebe’s View of Conrad” in Joseph Conrad; Critical Assessments, Keith Carabine, ed., Volume II: ‘The Critical Response: Almayer’s Folly to The Mirror of the Sea’ (Mountfield: Helm Information Ltd., 1992)
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad has been depicted as “among the half-dozen greatest short novels in the English language.” [pg.1] Chinua Achebe believes otherwise. In Chinua Achebe’s An Image of Africa: Racism is Conrad’s Heart of Darkness he simply states that, “Joseph Conrad was a thoroughgoing racist” [pg.5]
Achebe, Chinua. "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness." Heart of Darkness: An Authoritative Text, Backgrounds and Sources, Essays in Criticism. 3rd ed. Ed. Robert Kimbrough. New York: W.W. Norton, 1988. 251-262.