Joseph Conrad’s novella explores the concept of imperialism and makes reference to the exploration and colonization of Africa. The text itself, which is narrated in a third-person perspective (to subdue the demeaning nature), is bluntly degrading and disparaging toward the natives of Africa. The native African people are blatantly ostracized in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness with the author’s use of derogatory and condemning language throughout the text, the juxtaposition and hesitant comparison of the whites and the natives, and the idea presented of the European men being the saviors of Africa. Rather than display those of Africa as beings, Conrad uses belittling language to not only present the native people as beasts, but to also establish the theme of savagery in the novella. When describing the natives, Joseph Conrad has no hesitation to condemn the people.
But if it were to visit its primordial relative, the Congo, it would run the terrible risk of hearing grotesque echoes of its own forgotten darkness, and falling victim to an avenging recrudescence of the mindless frenzy of the first beginnings. (4) One might contend that this attitude toward the African in Heart of Darkness does not belong to Conrad, but rather to Marlow, and that far from endorsing it "Conrad might indeed be holding it up to irony and criticism." (9) According to Achebe "Conrad appears to go to considerable pains to set up layers of insulation between himself and the moral universe of his story." (9) For example, Conrad has a narrator behind a narrator -- he gives us Marlow's account through the filter of a second person. Achebe thus elucidates how "Conrad seems.
Heart of Darkness reflects the realities of world in the 19th century, that is Africans suffered and died because of European brutality during slave trading and colonialism. Unlike others, Conrad does not defence European colonisation and degrade the native African. The purpose of degradation in this novella is to show the dark side of the European colonialism and the unfair treatment of the natives.
Because of this, the novel can be interpreted in different ways from a racism standpoint. In my opinion, I both agree and disagree with Chinua Achebe’s statements concerning Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, and feel that it can be viewed in some ways as both racist or not racist. Conrad shows racism against Africans in many ways throughout his novel. “Black figures strolled about listlessly...steam ascended in the moonlight, the beaten nigger groaned somewhere (Conrad, 30).” The most clear and obvious instance of racism is the use of the word “nigger”. It is a word that is viewed as extremely negative and demeaning towards Africans by many.
One of the most baffling aspects of European interest in African people is the civilizations collective distaste of and fascination with people of African descent. The initial journey into Africa, and the planning that preceded it, spawned many of the most enlightening theories about African people. These theories, usually in support of African savagery and inferiority and in favor of European superiority and civility were based in the colonial mentalities of that time. Of the most notable theories is the idea that African religious system was pagan and that African people were inferior because of their darker skin pigmentation and “beast-like” nature. These theories dispersed rapidly across the globe, and even today people of African-descent collectively, however subconsciously, grow into them.
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: Blatant Racist Or Political Satirist? There have been many critics, predominantly Chinua Achebe, that have cast a cloak of racism upon the back of Joseph Conrad. Those authors base these allegations upon the novel Heart of Darkness, calling it a vile and most ungodly novel that only seeks to set the black race as a footstool of the white race. However, one must realize that there is a much deeper meaning to the novel than that of blatant racism. It is, in fact, a connection with the past that shows both the mindset, as well as the ignorance, of those who colonized Africa in the late nineteenth century.
In Cry, the beloved country, Alan Paton tells the story of his journey across Africa, his experiences with the colonized Africa, and the destruction of the beautiful, pre-colonialism native land of Africa. Heart of Darkness also tells the story of a man and his experiences with colonialism, but a man who comes from a different time period and a very different background than Alan Paton’s Stephen Kumalo. Although, both Joseph Conrad and Alan Paton portray the colonized areas as very negative, death filled, and sinful places, it is when one analyzes the descriptions of the native lands of Africa that the authors reasons for their disapproval of colonialism are truly revealed. When comparing the writing styles of Alan Paton and Joseph Conrad, their descriptions of the land and the people in both works reveal their different attitudes and views towards colonialism. While Paton and Conrad ultimately oppose colonialism, Paton is concerned with the disappearance of African tribal tradition, whereas Conrad is concerned with the perceived corruption of the white colonists.
Africa’s struggle to maintain their sovereignty amidst the encroaching Europeans is as much a psychological battle as it is an economic and political one. The spillover effects the system of racial superiority had on the African continent fractured ... ... middle of paper ... ...he malleable nature of the African psyche and how susceptible it can be to foreign influence. From the inception of colonialism, Shanu was straddling between two cultural identities; however the strain it placed on his psyche consumed him, ultimately leading to his suicide. . While Collins does a succinct job of examining the economic and political factors that heightened colonization, he fails to hone in on the mental warfare that was an essential tool in creating African division and ultimately European conquest.
In his essay, Achebe states that “Heart of Darkness projects the likeness of Africa as “the other world”, the antithesis of Europe and thus of civilization, a place where a man’s vaunted intelligence and refinement are finally mocked by triumphant bestiality”(Achebe 783). Readers are hit by the insensitivity and savage way in which European colonists advanced the tribal heritage they searched to “civilize". Chinua Achebe cites numerous points in the text where this concept is shown. Achebe also argues that the river Thames is mismatched to the river Congo, its “very antithesis” (3), where the activity in the innovative is centralized. Achebe argues that what is concerned about Conrad is not the definiteness, but the lurking hint of kinship, of widespread ancestry.