Heart of Darkness was based on Conrad’s personal experience in the Congo in 1890, during this time King Leopold of Belgium colonizes Central Africa and forms the Congo Free State. Leopold 's original purpose for colonizing Congo was to harvest Ivory. As a consequence, King Leopold, who was a tyrant used his powers and weapons to force the Congolese’s to work to death. In the same way, that the Hearth of Darkness unfolds; it shares the similarity in which the people of Congo were treated under the authority of Leopold. “The work as going on. The work! And this was the place where some of the helpers had withdrawn to die: “They were dying slowly—it was very clear. They were not enemies, they were not criminals, they were nothing earthly now,
Conrad was a master of prose as many critics admitted, even those who proclaimed him a racist. The writing of Heart of Darkness was not only to show the potential of what man could become, but what he already was. Marlow is the everyday man, longing to become something that he cannot even fathom. Kurtz was the ideal man that Marlow, or any man for that matter, longed to become. Kurtz was tormented in his last days because he saw the evil that was in European trade and imperialism. In this, he finds a reassuring simplicity in the ways of the natives. Conrad conveys this theme to those who search for a quality that resides in all men, rather than seeking the errors of one group or person, which is what Achebe accused Conrad of doing as he portrayed the natives as “niggers” and “common savages.” The evils of society set in motion for what Conrad sought to banish from human thought. All men have the capacity to be evil or good, yet the one ideal that determines this state of being is the realization of what good and evil truly are.
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. A step in controlling a people by dehumanizing them is to simply treat them as if they are objects. In Heart of Darkness the natives are objects, and even more atrocious, trophies to the white man.
Things Fall Apart was written in response to Heart of Darkness in 1958, therefore, Things Fall Apart automatically has contrasting themes, symbols, and characters that are meant to oppose those set in Conrad’s novella. With the growing popularity of African literature, critics began to question the realism portrayed in each work. Viewing this situation through this lens raises questions about what would be a truthful depiction and what would be a biased depiction. Analyzing this situation through mimeticism and realism, is one way in which this could be observed. In Susan Andrade’s novel, A Forum on Fiction 42.2, she states:
While many characters are critiqued or criticized by Conrad for their exploitation of Africa and it's inhabitants, they remain the dominant and superior race, both according to Conrad, and his primary narrator Charlie Marlow. The African characters are not only constructed as "other", but also as inferior and to an extent subhuman. This is evident through their lack of language or voice throughout the text. Africans are denied language, and are instead granted "grunting" noises and a "violent babble of mouth sounds" relegating them to an inferior status.
Conrad’s main character Marlow is the narrator for most of the story in Heart of Darkness. He is presented as a well-intentioned person, and along his travels he is shocked by the cruelties that he sees inflicted on the native people. Though he is seemingly benevolent and kindly, Marlow shows the racism and ignorance of Conrad and in fact of the majority of white people in his era, in a more subtle way. Marlow uses words to describe the blacks that, though generally accepted in his time, were slanderous and crude. He recalls that some of the first natives he saw in the Congo looked at him “with that complete, deathlike indifference of unhappy savages” (80; part 1). Marlow casually refers to the Africans with the most offensive of language: “Strings of dusty niggers arrived and departed…” (83; part 1). To Marlow, and thus to Conrad, the Africans are savages, dogs, devils, and criminals. Even the stories that Conrad creates for Marlow to narrate are twisted and false. The natives that Marlow deals with in the book are described as cannibals, and they are even given dialogue that affirms th...
Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness has been the cause of racial arguments debating whether it should be read nowadays. The way Conrad describes African Americans troubles several critics, Achebe in particular. Achebe disagrees with Conrad’s novel so much because in it Conrad dehumanizes African and Achebe won’t let anyone lower his humanity.
The Dispensable African in Heart of Darkness
Three Works Cited The story is about a man named Marlow, who is hired by The Company, which is a shipping company located in England. Although Marlow had sailed before, he had never sailed to Africa. The people who operated The Company (those located in England) are so far removed from reality, that they have no concept of the devastation caused in order to ship vast loads of ivory. The Company is a perfect example of how these profit driven industries obtain their wealth – through the blatant disregard of the environment and their fellow man.
During the novella we see many quotes made by Marlow and others that relate to racism towards the native Africans. In the first section of the story we see some comments that relate
Throughout time, man has faced many difficulties that have put into question the morals of society and humanity. One case in particular is the differentiation and segregation of people based on race. Never has there been an instance in society where this has not come into question, whether it be Medieval Europe or Colonial America, racism has played a substantial role in shaping civilization. With this in mind, it comes to say that culture has too been greatly affected by this atrocity. Literature, movies, and songs have all through the years reflected the views of the time period, some even going as far to shape how people base their views in the future. One novel that has sparked not only controversy, but has been under constant questioning