preview

Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Benito Cereno by Herman Melville

Better Essays
Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Benito Cereno by Herman Melville tactfully conceal a racist and simplistic portrayal of Africa and its people through the mask of fiction. The novellas use fiction to dissuade the reader from understanding that the authors are indirectly equating Africa to anarchy and barbarism. The setting, dialogue and motifs within their stories make the extremely biased portrayal of Africa evident. Joseph Conrad and Herman Melville are often hotly debated in the subject of possible racism but their stories present Africa as a savage and uncivilized nether region of the world.
In Benito Cereno, there is a character in particular that is a central figure in the racist and one-sided portrayal of Africa within Benito Cereno. This character is Captain Amasa Delano; he is a pleasant and a slightly slow individual. Captain Delano is a good-natured man who appears to really like Negroes, he is not a racist however; he is a man that is heavily engrossed in the stereotypes of black people. His opinions on black people and their characteristics seem to be factual to him. To Captain Delano, his commentary is nothing more than mere universal truths about Negroes. It is through this character’s continuous commentary on the Negroes that we see that the improper portrayal of Africans. It is apparent from his commentary that he doesn’t hate blacks, he likes them a lot but for all the wrong reasons. The admiration for Negroes that Captain Delano displays is a subtle projection of the advantages of slaves and their usefulness. A projection that is tactlessly implying that Africans were not made into slaves but were genetically programmed to be slaves. Captain Delano reflects that black slaves are naturally subservient and...

... middle of paper ...

...to be Babo's accomplice and muscle man in the mutiny on the ship. Lastly, the Negro women that captivate Captain Delano with their animal-like tenderness toward their children are revealed to have been the most blood thirsty and eager participants in the execution of their slavemasters.

Bibliography
Melville, Herman. Benito Cereno. Reprint. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2008. 73. Print.
Melville, Herman. Benito Cereno. Reprint. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2008. 73. Print.
Melville, Herman. Benito Cereno. Reprint. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2008. 62-63. Print.
Melville, Herman. Benito Cereno. Reprint. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2008. 51. Print.
Melville, Herman. Benito Cereno. Reprint. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2008. 51. Print.
Simpson, Eleanor, “Melville and the Negro: From Typee to ‘Benito Cereno,” American Literature, XLI (March, 1969), 34.
Get Access