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Theme Of Racism In Joseph Conrad's Heart Of Darkness

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Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is a testament to the evils expounded by European domination of Africa and African peoples in the nineteenth century. Hidden behind the veil of a story centered on a white man’s downward spiral, Conrad strategically frames the dehumanizing aspects of slavery against a backdrop of lustful greed and brutal tyranny. On a ship sailing along the Thames River, a meditative ship captain called Marlow recounts the tale of the so-called ‘darkness’ he experiences on an expedition to Africa. In his retelling, Marlow observes the ineffective and brutal treatment exhibited toward the captive native Africans by his European comrades, who, like himself, have traveled to Africa with the intention to exploit the land for the…show more content…
It is important to consider the context of racism as a result of the culture and time period in which the novel is written. Hunt Hawkins contends that Conrad attempted to “appeal to the values of his [English] audience” by encouraging them to “censure the atrocities” in the Congo (288), thus reflecting the influence of cultural ideals during that time. In the words of Cedric Watts, Conrad “most deliberately and incisively debunks” (197) the “myths” that Achebe claims the novel perpetuates. Not only does Conrad make a mockery of the imperialist agenda his European characters carry with them to Africa, but he also demonstrates their utter failure through the death of the most prominent figure of the trade. Conrad denounces imperialism as a method for “weaning those ignorant millions from their horrid ways” (17) as the events of the novel unfold to reveal the satirical irony behind such a statement. Kurtz acts as the foreman for demonstrating this; Kurtz’s struggles are documented not to tell a European story, but to discredit
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