Heart Of Darkness Criticism Essay

Satisfactory Essays
Achebe Criticisms Essay
In 1899, Joseph Conrad published a short work of fiction called Heart of Darkness. This novel is often criticized in literature throughout the world. However, it was not until 1975 when Chinua Achebe gave his famous lecture, “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness”, and it is this lecture that became the cornerstone for criticism of Heart of Darkness. Through structure and style, African geography, portrayal of African women, and perception of Africa, Chinua Achebe brings forth the nature of darkness in the novel Heart of Darkness. The first of these criticisms to be discussed is the structure and style of the novel.
The structure and style of Heart of Darkness is challenged by Achebe to imply racism. Conrad takes the technique of having a narrator reporting Marlow's experiences in Africa. The story is partially Marlow's because only what is remembered or deemed important by him gets to be narrated. It is also partially the narrator's story, because his record of what he heard Marlow say is his sole experience. Therefore, faced by a situation where we should not fully ascribe to either Conrad or Marlow, the assumptions of the intent of the novel is based on the reader. This writing style raises the question, which is truly racist, the author or character? By creating a writing style of the point of view from a character, and not the insertion of a authorial perspective, racism seems subjective to the reader.
However, For Achebe, Heart of Darkness is racist because it projects the image of Africa as "the other world, the antithesis of Europe . . . “ Achebe feels the style of Conrad’s work is inherently an explanation of his own inner beliefs. The idea that Conrad refers to Africans as...

... middle of paper ...

... true atmosphere of the land. In Things Fall Apart, Achebe presents the natural beauty of the land when describing a storm, “At last the rain came...the birds were silenced in the forests, and the world lay panting under the live, vibrating, heat. Palm trees swayed as the wind combed their leaves into flying crests like strange and fantastic coiffure.” The perspective is completely different from that of Conrad. The inability to see any trace of the mysterious Africa described by Marlow shows this depth of Africa. Achebe’s perspective shows that Conrad’s description is superficially shallow, therefore deserving a racist claim to his description. By Heart of Darkness giving the vantage point the white European society is superior to that of the simple African society, Achebe provides the true depth of a nation that has survived the test of time without colonialism.
Get Access