King Leopold II of Belgium is known for being one of the most brutal racists in history. His inhumane treatment of Africans in the Congo was revealed in photographs that surfaced and that were taken to emphasize his cruel behavior over the Africans in the Congo. His motive for this inhumanity was pure greed. Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, although does not embody the vicious behavior of King Leopold II, contributes to the racism of that period in other ways. Because of this, the novel can be interpreted in different ways from a racism standpoint.
According to Lois Tyson, the colonizers think that they set up examples for the colonial people, so the colonised people “were considered ‘other’, different, and therefore inferior to the point of being less than fully human” In other words, the colonizers ... ... middle of paper ... ...me greedy. As Gene M. Moor has stated, Conrad hated imperialism in central Africa of its savageness, selfishness and devastation. Kurtz’s final words, ‘the horror’, ‘the horror’, are about how a civilized man can change to savagery when there is no restriction” Therefore, Kurtz can be considered as corruption brought to Africa from Europe. The death of Kurtz can be regarded as subversion of colonialism as it destroys both the colonizers and the colonised people. Heart of Darkness reflects the realities of world in the 19th century, that is Africans suffered and died because of European brutality during slave trading and colonialism.
In the same way, Marlow’s use of the terms “phantom” and “angels” may seem racist, yet it is just to emphasize on their mistreatment and to point out to the fact they are brutalized. Consequently, Heart of Darkness proposes that Europeans are inhuman and savages just as the natives whom they were supposed to bring enlightenment. Moreover, he refers to Achebe’s point concerning the denial of Africa. Phillips explains that it is because the novella’s main subject is to question “the supremacy of European humanity, and the ability of this supposed humanity to maintain its imagined status beyond the high streets of Europe.” Considering this, Heart of Darkness explores the “universal questions about man's capacity for evil,” and shows how fragile and sensitive is the human soul by exposing it to a new environment as Phillips
Of the nigger I used to dream for years afterwards" (Conrad). This remark Conrad made was disturbing and clearly racist because he described the black man as a "nigger" more then once. The Europeans were racist toward blacks. We can see how the European people seem to think the Africans are not equal to them because their black. For example Conrad says, "the thought of their humanity-like yours…Ugly" (Conrad).
Not to mention that the Europeans constantly refer to natives as objects such as machinery as well as suppress and eradicate them at any opportunity. Ultimately, the Europeans utilize their false words as a civilized veneer that masks their capability of being evil and savage. For instance, in Africa, Marlow states that he has familiarized himself “…with a flabby, pretending, weak-eyed devil of a rapacious and pitiless folly.” (pg. 81). Symbolically, the colonists are described as the devil mentioned above because they treat the natives with brutality even though their stated intentions are pure.
Even the stories that Conrad creates for Marlow to narrate are twisted and false. The natives that Marlow deals with in the book are described as cannibals, and they are even given dialogue that affirms th... ... middle of paper ... ...rejudiced and biased assumptions that Heart of Darkness perpetuates. Written in different times, and through different perspectives, Heart of Darkness and Things Fall Apart present entirely opposing views of the Victorian Era colonization. Marlow and Kurtz display the racism of white Europeans through both ignorance and cruelty. Okonkwo exemplifies the anger and sorrow that Africans felt at having their homes and customs destroyed.
Racism can be defined as one group of people claiming another to be inferior by the assumption that there is a connection between biology and culture, that the way one looks determines the way one behaves (Kennedy, lines 2-4). Based upon this definition, it is apparent that the Europeans drew many racist conclusions from the immediate appearance of the native people. The way the native people wore next to no clothing and seemed to be so in touch with nature planted thoughts of inferiority into the minds of the Europeans. The prejudices applied by the explorers ultimately lead to the enslavement and battery of the innocent Indians. Heathenism also played into the unfortunate events following Columbus’ discovery of the new world.
Racism is cleverly hidden within the text, but imperialism is innocently depicted as the civilization of the Congolese people. Conrad’s writing can be interpreted two different ways. One approach is the reader might interpret his writing as an attack on the Europeans as the imperialists trying to help the Congolese, but the African people refuse their help. In contrast, the other approach might be that they feel sympathetic to the Congolese people. They see the Europeans has cruel and heartless.
Racism in Joseph Conrad’s Literary Work 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.
In fact, they violated the land and the natives in the name of greed. From here, we can see the ambiguity the Conrad plays her... ... middle of paper ... ...ut it is more on his Eurocentric point of view when he narrates the “Heart of Darkness”. In “Heart of Darkness”, for me, I think that Conrad is more on his people side and being racist towards the Africans as we can see very clearly while Marlow is defending Kurtz by saying that what he saw in Africa cannot all be blamed on one man. Works Cited Conrad,J. (1995).