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Is Joseph Conrad a Racist and Does His Work Portray It?

Powerful Essays
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. Achebe’s contempt for the novella is beyond the words of Conrad; it is significantly towards the fact—the novella is not criticized more in the light of Conrad’s racism. Achebe’s comment might holds some truth because I didn’t read Heart of Darkness as a racist text.Personally, I saw it has the disintegration of colonialism. As Achebe suggests “am I a product of white racism?” To answer the question above, I am not a product of white racism because personally, I do not see it as a racist text. When I read Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness, the language hinted to racism not from the standpoint of Conrad, but from Marlow,the protagonist and the other major and minor characters. This is why I can not commit to Achebe’s accusations for Conrad and his work because Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness is a product of its time.
Achebe begins his argument with the comparison of the two rivers: Thames and The Congo. He writes:
The b...

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... that exists within.
Evidently, Achebe believes Conrad is a racist and his work is a product of his racism; however, I do not agree with this statement. I am familiar with Conrad’s use of the English language to describe the Africans. There is no denying that the Africans do not have a voice as well. However, Achebe is not accepting that this novella is a product of its time. Imperialism gives the colonizers the power to think that they are better than the colonized because the colonizers view the colonized’s country as wrong. However, in actuality, Conrad illustrates the horrors of imperialism and give the readers the opportunity to make an informed decision. If we based our information on the last scene, Marlow may succumbs to the darkness in the end by hiding the horrors in the Congo, but overall, this story reveals the horrors of imperialism in the Congo.
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