Heart of Darkness

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Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness is about Marlow’s journey up the Congo River; he’s the steamships captain and his duty is to get ivory. During his journey, he will obsess with Mr. Kurtz, a reputable man who everyone looks up to, but mostly with the natives .While traveling through Africa, he will encounter many natives or as he prefers to describe them “savages”. Joseph Conrad is a polish author and is considered a great writer; furthermore, Heart of Darkness is thought by some to be the greatest novel of its time. In fact it’s listed in the Modern Library and Boston Becks as one of the 100 best novels there is. Should one really say it’s such a great novel even if dehumanized another person’s humanity? According to Chinua Achebe a Nigerian novelist, professor and most importantly a critic, no; Chinua Achebe gave a lecture at the University of Massachusetts over Conrad’s novel. In “An Image of Africa” he accuses him of being a racist. My opinion is similar to Achebe’s; I also believe Conrad discriminated Africans in his novel because he regards to Africans as savages and describes them in a horrid way. Within the first few pages in “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness” Achebe expresses his displeasure with Conrad and states he is “no more a great artist than another who may be called a priest who reads the mass backwards or a physician who poisoned his patients” (9). In the context of this phrase it is clear Achebe is unhappy with Conrad. Although Conrad lived in a time when Africans didn’t have a good reputation, he believes that was no excuse to demean Africans in the manner Conrad did. Despite his time period, Achebe views Conrad as not being a good writer due to the fact that he had to discrimina... ... middle of paper ... ...ords used to describe each man are clearly racist. Patrick Brantlinger, a literary critic, agrees with Achebe’s point and he supports this idea by stating in “A Cultural Perspective” that “certainly Conrad had a problem with niggers…sometimes his fixation on blackness is overwhelming,” I agree, Conrad does have racial bias (285). The comparison of the two men, one black and the other white, is significantly different and the white Englishman is clearly preferred. Cleopatra Anthony, another blogger, wrote in her blog “Was Joseph Conrad a racist?” that “since the word (darkness) is used not only when Marlow is in Africa but also used in the story to describe England” it can’t be used as an argument to say when Conrad uses the word darkness its racist. She believes labeling him a racist because he uses the word darkness isn’t a fair label. She has a valid point there.

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