Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
Our world has been plagued by racism before biblical times. Two of the most inhumane outgrowths of racism are detribalization and slavery. During the nineteenth-century European Imperialism, racism led to many acts of inhumanity by Europeans, particularly in Africa. Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness presents us with a fictional account of these inhumane acts in Africa illustrating that racism and its outgrowths are the most cruel examples of man's inhumanity to man.
One reason racism is such a cruel example of man's inhumanity to man is that it is based on thinking of people as members of groups rather than as individuals. Conrad brings up this grouping of people leading to racism when he has Charlie Marlow say, "The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different completion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, it is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much (Conrad 70). As Edward W. Said, author of Culture and Imperialism, explains, "Independence was for whites and Europeans; the lesser or subject peoples were to be ruled…"(Said 24). The mentality of the whites allowed them to feel as though they could dominate over the natives. This mentality led to abuse and destruction of the people they felt were worthless. A step in controlling a people by dehumanizing them is to simply treat them as if they are objects. In Heart of Darkness the natives are objects, and even more atrocious, trophies to the white man.
They would have been more impressive, those heads on the stakes, if their faces had not been turned to the house. Only one, the first I had made out, was facing my way. I was not so shocked as you may thi...
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...lture is also discussed having no value in Hallet's book.
To late nineteenth-century observers Africa seemed the most "barbarous" and "uncivilized" of the continents. "Barbarous" and "uncivilized" were imprecise and emotive epithets, which contemporary modern Europeans applied to many alien cultures whose mores they did not attempt to understand (Hallet 40).
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.