Racism in Joseph Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness

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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. Conrad “was a thoroughgoing racist”; Heart of Darkness platforms this clearly. Throughout the novella Conrad describes and represents the Africans and Africa itself in a patronizing and racist way. Constantly throughout the novel, Joseph Conrad was describing Africans by using words bearing a negative connotation. For example, he describes “Kurtz’s African mistress as “savage and superb, wild-eyed and magnificent.” (5; part 3). The term savage is frequently used when describing Africans in the novella. Conrad used Kurtz’s mistress to contrast with the European girl who loved Kurtz. He also used her to show that Africans who knew their place would receive “better” treatment from their masters. 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. `Works Cited Achebe, Chinua. JSTOR. Indiana University Press, 1978. Web. 06 Feb. 2014. Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. New York: Knopf, 1993. Print.
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