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Joseph Conrad Racial Degradation

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Since its publication in 1899, Joseph Conrad?s Heart of Darkness has undergone a great deal of controversy. Some have found the novel a great masterpiece of Western literature, while others take offense to its contents. One of the most controversial themes of the novel is that of racial degradation. Throughout Heart of Darkness we see a great deal of racism, and I believe this is due to him trying to point out the racism in society. In the novel, Conrad was trying to call attention to the problem of racism through his depiction of racial degradation of the African natives. Conrad was subject to racial tendencies due to the time period, but it is obvious through his actions and feelings of the character Marlow that his overall purpose of the…show more content…
which was a phrase you wouldn?t hear much considering the time period. He goes on to describe them shouting, singing and sweating. He writes, ?They had faces like grotesque masks- these chaps; but they had bone, muscle, a wild vanity, an intense energy of movement that was as natural and true as the surf along the coast?They were a great comfort to look at? (1966). Initially he gives them a wild, untamed description, but this leads him to watching them in awe. He calls them ?chaps,? as he did to his friends and co-workers that he referred to as chaps earlier. Conrad describes the Africans by writing, ?They had bone, muscle.? Just like him, they were human. They were different, but they were natural and true, not changed by society?s advances. Conrad went on to say, ?They were a great comfort to look at.? Marlow watches them in amazement and…show more content…
I feel that Conrad is trying to create a feeling of equality and peace between the Europeans and the Natives.

Deeper into the jungle, Marlow runs into a ?man-o-war.? When speaking of a camp of natives, the man calls them ?enemies? (1961). Shortly following, and after a personal encounter with some natives, Marlow says, ?these men could by no stretch of imagination be called enemies? (1968). They were innocent. The colonists came into Africa and drove the Natives over the edge. They invaded their country and without taking some sort of defensive action, the natives would certainly die. The heartless colonists were the real enemies and Conrad acknowledges this through Marlow.

During his journey into the Congo, Marlow comes into contact with a chain gang. Conrad writes, ?They walked erect and slow?I could see every rib, the joints of their limbs were like knots in a rope; each had a collar on his neck and all were connected together with a chain?they passed me with that deathlike indifference of unhappy savages? (1968). Of coarse, calling the natives ?savages? sounds racist, but I believe Conrad intended this to be an example of the hell the natives were put through. The colonists pushed them to the point where their lives were meaningless, like savages living for nothing. In Marlow?s detailed description, it is obvious that he feels sorry for these men. He looks at them, and sees that they
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