Achebe Criticisms Essay In 1899, Joseph Conrad published a short work of fiction called Heart of Darkness. This novel is often criticized in literature throughout the world. However, it was not until 1975 when Chinua Achebe gave his famous lecture, “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness”, and it is this lecture that became the cornerstone for criticism of Heart of Darkness. Through structure and style, African geography, portrayal of African women, and perception of Africa, Chinua Achebe brings forth the nature of darkness in the novel Heart of Darkness. The first of these criticisms to be discussed is the structure and style of the novel.
Then realization hit, we hear very vivid and sad news reports about racism, simply not to be racist ourselves, only to indicate the reason it’s bad and inhumane. If racial discrimination was shown as, not offending anyone, then why would anyone care to check? When you describe racism, people tend to believe you, yourself believes in these matters, but what they don’t see is the picture you’re attempting to register. (US History Colonial to 1877, Fall2013) This story came to mind when I read of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Before analyzing Heart of Darkness, I would have named this book racist, completely; Conrad downgrades the Africans in the Congo without hiding it none the less.
His speech ended with a challenge to his listeners to fight against the unthinking racism of the West against Africans. David Denby's "Jungle Fever" is an article written in response to Achebe's speech. It disputes Achebe's assertion that Heart of Darkness is without literary value because of its racist background. The article is an account of a discussion about Heart of Darkness that took place over the course of two days in a class at Columbia College. In between episodes it disputes Achebe's conclusion.
Conrad depicts his ideas about Africa in this way as well as through the character of Marlow. As author Gary Adelman comments on this in his book Heart of Darkness Search for the Unconscious "Africans, in their free state, as described by Marlow, epitomizes not only the primitive condition of humankind, but also an actively demoralizing influence, which a white man coming to Africa must challenge." (p. 69) In many description located in the novel Conrad depicts Africa and it’s people as being dark and of inhuman nature. "It was unearthly, and the men were -No, they were not inhuman. Well, you know, that was the worst of it -this suspicion of t... ... middle of paper ... ... Darkness is that he meant the darkness and wickedness that he saw and associated with European colonialism and imperialistic rule of Africa.
Though written in response to Mussolini’s invasion of Algeria in 1935, the poem’s criticism of European colonialism in Africa can be extended to the host of European nations that ran the race to colonial domination. The poem is structured to mirror the evolution of Africa, with the three stanzas respectively dealing with Africa’s creation, colonisation and post-colonialism. This sets up the framework for the contrasting of the three periods, which expose the poet's impression of the hypocrisy of Western imperialism. For Tagore, Western imperialism in Africa has hindered the country's natural progression towards civilisation. This is emphasised through his ample use of anthropomorphism which offers a human dimension to Africa.
For some critics, the use of darkness is seen as an intentional literary device. For example, Gary Adelman and Michael Levenson discuss the use of darkness and comment upon Conrad's purpose. Gary Adelman suggests that Conrad used darkness as a means to tie together various elements of the novel. Adelman says, "the most elaborate of Conrad's devices for controlling several dimensions of his story is his metaphorical use of darkness" (85-86). Adelman talks about how "[d]arkness characterizes the hero's psychological state at each stage of his journey" (86).
Cleanth Brooks writes in his essay “The Formalist Critics” from 1951 about criticism that formalist critics encounter and tries to show these arguments from his point of view and even indicates common ground with other literary critics. Cleanth Brooks argues that we lose the intrinsically obvious points of works of literature if we view the work through the different lenses of literary theory, however we are always viewing the literary work through a subjective lens, since the author and the critic cannot subjectively separate themselves from themselves and in making these points he contradicts himself. Cleanth Brooks starts his essay by listing “articles of faith I could subscribe to” (Brooks 19) and pointing out statements about literary criticism that might go with a formalist criticism. Yet he questions that list in its end, and seems to slate that his writings have been largely misunderstood. What his statements have to do with faith in connection with literature is up to the reader, since in one of his articles he specifically mentions, “literature is not a surrogate for religion” (Brooks 19).
Joseph Conrad's novel Heart of Darkness uses character development and character analysis to really tell the story of European colonization. Within Conrad's characters one can find both racist and colonialist views, and it is the opinion, and the interpretation of the reader which decides what Conrad is really trying to say in his work. Chinua Achebe, a well known writer, once gave a lecture at the University of Massachusetts about Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, entitled "An image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness." Throughout his essay, Achebe notes how Conrad used Africa as a background only, and how he "set Africa up as a foil to Europe," (Achebe, p.251) while he also "projects the image of Africa as the other world,' the antithesis of Europe and therefore of civilizations" (Achebe, p.252). By his own interpretations of the text, Achebe shows that Conrad eliminates "The African as a human factor," thereby "reducing Africa to the role of props" (Achebe, p.257).
Miller through-out the essay describes his grievances of the loss of importance our society has placed on literature. Millers essay compares many other literary works to prove his point. He compares the following: the shootings in Columbine, The Information by Martin Amis, Into the Wild by Jon Krakauers, Meditations on First Philosophy by Rene Descartes, Joining the Liars Club by Mary Karr, and the experiment in institutional autobiography. In this essay we will define what the dark night of the soul is, what helped me get through my personal dark night of my soul, and whether the statement “the only way it is through statement is true. Through writing this he is facing every English professors dark night of their souls.
Conrad's HEART OF DARKNESS has initiated controversy for numerous years. One side of the argument is that the novella was very racist while other ones assertion that it wasn't racist at all. Although I personally don’t think it's racist, for persons like Chinua Achebe the novella is nothing but, while others like Candice Bradley fight back the text. Chinua Achebe composed an essay titled "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's HEART OF DARKNESS" interpreting his attitude on the novella. 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).