By definition art is an expression of human creative skills that are appreciated for their beauty or emotional power. Since The Heart of Darkness consists of somewhat dark themes, it has received mass criticism from people like Achebe and Nina Pelikan, who have argued that The Heart of Darkness is not a commendable piece of writing. In response to Joseph Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness, Achebe stated that Conrad is a “thoroughgoing racist” and “Africa is treated as a setting and backdrop that eliminates the African as human factor.” When we read the novel in depth, we can see why Achebe said that.
In The Heart of Darkness black natives are depicted as primitive, uncivilized and savage individuals of the society, whereas white men are sophisticated and educated people who civilize the natives. The reader is exposed to the existence of racism in the text through Marlow, who goes into the Congo but barely communicates with the citizens. Whenever Marlow sees the natives, a presence of an ingroup and outgroup bias is revealed. Conrad uses Marlow as a tool to belittle the natives and to tell the readers that white men will always be superior. There are several instances in the story where Conrad doesn’t consider the natives ...
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...Marlow’s aunt views him as an emissary of light who will educate the African native, but Marlow tells her that the company is run for profit, not missionary work and later tells his friends how women are out of touch with the truth. It is ironic how Conrad depicts women as a symbolism for innocence, yet it is the women who facilitate the men at certain instances. For example, it was Marlow’s aunt who helped him get a job as a steamship operator for an ivory trading company and the two women who helped Marlow to meet the doctor.
Despite the immense criticism, Joseph Conrad received for “The Heart of Darkness” I will say that “The Heart of Darkness” is a commendable work of art. Joseph Conrad wrote his experience in this book and pointed out the harsh realities that existed in the society in that period, and I believe one should not be criticised for stating the truth.
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