In his famous critical essay, “An Image of Africa” (1975), Chinua Achebe takes a strong stance against Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. He asserts that Conrad was a racist and his novella is a product of his racism. A following quote that is good to show Achebe opinion for Conrad is: The point of my observations should be quite clear by now, namely that Joseph Conrad was a thoroughgoing racist. That this simple truth is glossed over in criticisms of his work is due to the fact that white racism against Africa is such a normal way of thinking that its manifestations go completely unremarked. (An Image of Africa, Achebe, 1975) Achebe comments on Conrad’s work as a hidden product of racism because criticisms for Heart of Darkness mask the racism and it is now the way we [critics and readers] see the novella.
When Conrad refers to Africans through his characters, it seems as if he views them as animals. “Mostly black and nake... ... middle of paper ... ...have grown to the powerhouse that it was. I am not condoning it and saying the treatment of blacks was ok, but Conrad’s novel is a work of its time, and always will be in history. Achebe stated that Conrad’s work was “an offensive and deplorable book.” I believe this view of Heart of Darkness to be true through his inhumane depiction of blacks throughout his novel. Conrad followed in the footsteps of infamous racist in figures, King Leopold II in particular for his barbaric treatment of Africans in the Congo.
Hence, the book only mirrors Europeans’ avidity and how they regarded Africa during the nineteenth century. In addition, Phillips responds to Achebe’s claim for describing the Africans as not human beings. Indeed, he argues that is to criticize the excessive power of the colonizer and misusing it against the natives. In other words, it reveals the viciousness of the Europeans as it emphasizes on slavery. That is to say, the natives are considered as animals; they are beaten and paralyzed with fear, claiming that it is part of their job.
When European missionaries arrive to Umuofia, Okonkwo tries to defend the culture that the missionaries would annihilate in the name of "civilizing" the natives. However, his unyielding approach and vicious behavior has the opposite of its planned effect, perpetuating the stereotype of the savage African in the eyes of the European readers. European prejudice against Africans is undoubtedly present in Heart of Darkness. In traveling through Africa, Marlow describes all the natives he encounters as savages, comparing them to animals or the jungle itself. Marlow sees a death pit literally an open grove where natives go to die.
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad centralizes the issue of imperialism. Imperialism is a nation’s policy of extending authority by territorial acquisition or by the establishment of economic and political hegemony over other nation. In the novella, Conrad shows sympathy for the native Africa and attempts to attacks on imperialism by criticizing the immoral and brutal treatment of European colonizers in Africa. In Heart of Darkness, Conrad reveals that the colonialism’s idea of helping the natives and making them “civilised” is a major misconception among European. For example, “Something like an emissary of light, something like a lower sort of apostle.
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.
How does Achebe's personal history and the context in which he wrote "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness" reflect the manner in which he views Conrad's idea of racism in the novel? 3. Taking into account Achebe's assumptions and analysis of racism in Heart of Darkness, how does this change Conrad's novel as a literary work, if it does at all? The literal heart of darkness in Conrad's novel Heart of Darkness does not merely incorporate the Belgian Congo, the African savages, the journey to the innermost soul, and England as the corruptor in its attempted colonization of the African people for selfish and commercial purposes. In "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness ," Achebe accuses Conrad of racism as the essential "heart of darkness."
Africa’s struggle to maintain their sovereignty amidst the encroaching Europeans is as much a psychological battle as it is an economic and political one. The spillover effects the system of racial superiority had on the African continent fractured ... ... middle of paper ... ...he malleable nature of the African psyche and how susceptible it can be to foreign influence. From the inception of colonialism, Shanu was straddling between two cultural identities; however the strain it placed on his psyche consumed him, ultimately leading to his suicide. . While Collins does a succinct job of examining the economic and political factors that heightened colonization, he fails to hone in on the mental warfare that was an essential tool in creating African division and ultimately European conquest.
Achebe clams that Conrad uses a different tone in attitude when referring two these women, whereas the diction he uses when discussing Africans consists of nothing but racism. The word “savage” as well as many other racist words are constantly used... ... middle of paper ... ...urtz is a way of emphasizing the cruelty of the Blacks and the great, noble and self-sacrificial colonial development of the 'White Man's Burden'. In “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness," Achebe takes notes the ways that Conrad degrades Africans by reducing their religious practices to misconception, belittling their complex geography to just a single mass of jungle, telling them to remain in their place, and taking away their capability of speaking. Achebe criticizes Joseph Conrad for his racist stereotypes towards the people of Africa. Achebe also sensibly labels these stereotypes and shows that Africa is in fact a rich land full of intelligent people who are, in fact, very human.
Specifically, Conrad and Coppola incorporate theme of hypocrisy in order to portray man’s incredible potential for evil. Firstly, the theme of hypocrisy is integrated in both works for the purpose of portraying man’s staggering and absurd potential for evil. In the novel, Heart of Darkness, the Europeans state that their objectives in Africa are to trade with the natives and immerse them with the light of civilization. However, their actions fail to reflect their stated motives since the Europeans take the ivory from the natives by force and they treat them inhumanely. 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.