Heart of Darkness: Critical Responses Essays

Heart of Darkness: Critical Responses Essays

Length: 1881 words (5.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Term Papers

Open Document

Essay Preview

In 1890, Joseph Conrad received employment in the Congo working as the captain of a steamboat. After six months, he returned because of illness. Recording his experience in the Congo, Conrad wrote his highly famous novella, Heart of Darkness. Since its publication in 1899, Heart of Darkness has attracted many literary critics. Although many critics have supported the publication of Heart of Darkness, other critics, such as Chinua Achebe, have scrutinized the novella on the grounds of racism. Research does not lead to a conclusive decision on racism in the novella, as there is evidence to support themes of both racism and anti-imperialism.
As previously mentioned, Chinua Achebe is the best known literary critic of Heart of Darkness. In his essay, “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness,” Achebe clearly presents that he is disgusted with Heart of Darkness and believes “Joseph Conrad [is] a thoroughgoing racist” (1977, pg. 5). Achebe calls attention to many examples where Conrad subjected Africa and its people to racist illustrations and descriptions. One instance of imagery that has stuck with many critics of Heart of Darkness describes the suffering of the Africans. “Near the same tree, two more bundles of acute angles sat with their legs drawn up” (Conrad, 1900, pg. 21). Many have pointed out that this caricature and pose of the African native infantilizes him and takes away his humanity.
Both Achebe and another critic, Memory Chirere, a writer for The Herald, find many faults with Conrad’s stylistic imagery. While Achebe believes that Conrad’s style “[Induces] hypnotic stupor in his readers through a bombardment of emotive words and other forms of trickery,” Chirere calls attention to a different impact cause...


... middle of paper ...


...ors: An Extravagant Story. London, United Kingdom: William Heinemann.
Davis, Lennard J. (2006). The Value of Teaching From a Racist Classic. The Chronicle Review
Phillips, C. (2007). Was Joseph Conrad Really a Racist. Philosophia Africana,10(1), 59-66.
Raja, M. A. (2007). Joseph Conrad: The Question of Racism and Representation of Muslims in his Malayan Works. Postcolonial Text, 3(4), 1-12.
Said, E. (1993). Two Visions in Heart of Darkness. Culture and Imperialism, 22-31.
Sarvan, C.P.. (1980) Racism and the Heart of Darkness. The International Fiction Review, 7(1), 6-10.
Svensson, Morgan. (2010). Critical Responses to Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. Flemingsburg, Sweeden: Södertörn University College.
Tindall, William Y. (1966). Apology for Marlow. Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and the Critics (pp. 123-34). By Bruce Harkness. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publications.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

The Subject of Race in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness Essay

- The Subject of Race in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness In 1899 Joseph Conrad published a short work of fiction called Heart of Darkness. This novella is often read, discussed, criticized in literature programs throughout the world. It is a work that allows us to tackle a variety of topics, and is therefore responded to in a variety of ways. The work itself as one critic puts it “might most usefully be considered hyper-canonized” (Padmini “Why” 104). The work is taught beyond the realm of a normal work in the literature program....   [tags: Heart Darkness essays]

Free Essays
1552 words (4.4 pages)

Essay about Heart Of Darkness : Critical Analysis

- Heart of Darkness: Critical Analysis Joseph Conrad’s novella, Heart of Darkness, was written in the year 1902, a time of modernist literature. Heart of Darkness talks about the problems with alienation and confusion as much as it does about imperialism. In the early 1900’s, the lifestyle in England veered towards the Victorian values. Conrad’s novella makes a bridge to connect the Victorian values with the ideas of modernism. Thus “it belongs to a period of change.”(Sardar) For example, the natives are following in the footsteps of their predecessors, following a life of tradition, and their ideas of life are constantly being attacked by people like Mr....   [tags: Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad, Colonialism]

Term Papers
1413 words (4 pages)

The Heart Of Darkness By Joseph Conrad Essay

- The Heart of Darkness, a complex text was written by Joseph Conrad around the 19th century, when Europeans were colonizing Africa for wealth and power and were attempting to spread their culture and religion in Africa. It was also a period in which women were not allowed to participate in worldly affairs. Therefore, the text deals with issues such as racism, European imperialism, and misogyny. This essay will look at the different themes in the novel and argue whether or not The Heart of Darkness is a work of art....   [tags: Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness, Africa]

Term Papers
1101 words (3.1 pages)

Analysis Of ' The Heart Of Darkness ' Essay

- Marc Locke UNV-106HN October 28, 2014 Professor Santos A Moral Analysis of The Heart of Darkness In Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, characters are confronted with ethical dilemmas that transmute their observations and engagements. Marlow, the character the audience follows, is particularly affected by these dilemmas and is coerced to decide what is authentically right and what is erroneous. Conrad’s novel dares readers to sympathize with Marlow and endeavor to not only understand his actions, but contemplate what they would do in his given situation....   [tags: Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad, Morality]

Term Papers
1066 words (3 pages)

Essay on The Heart Of Darkness By John Conrad

- The Heart of Darkness is seen as a classic that many say shouldn’t be taught and many of those who think it should thinks the reader need to be very critical of it. The debate of it being taught stems from the debate of whether Conrad and his narrative are racist. Many have addressed the idea of racism, and furthermore how he depicts Africans. In my opinion, it is clearly a racist story, whether intentionally or unintentionally, it has racist tones especially when read by a modern day reader. On the other hand his view of Africans is also interesting to analysis, as it is questioned, just with the racism, if his views of them are just mirroring the popular opinion of the time....   [tags: Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness, Africa]

Term Papers
1035 words (3 pages)

Essay on Analysis Of Conrad 's Heart Of Darkness

- Few pieces of literature have received as much acclaim and criticism as Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. In his essay “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s ‘Heart of Darkness’”, Chinua Achebe attacks Conrad and brands him a racist for his dehumanizing descriptions of Africans. When responding to the argument that it is the protagonist Marlow, rather than Conrad, from which the novel’s racism stems, Achebe argues that Conrad’s failure to provide “an alternative frame of reference by which [to] judge the actions and opinions of his characters” is an indication that Conrad shares the same bigotry as Marlow (Achebe)....   [tags: Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness, Chinua Achebe]

Term Papers
973 words (2.8 pages)

Colonialism and Imperialism in Heart of Darkness Essay

- Imperialism Exposed in Conrad's Heart of Darkness         Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" is, as Edward Said says, a story about European "acts of imperial mastery" (1503)-its methods, and the effects it has on human nature-and it is presumable that Conrad incorporates much of his own experience in the Congo and his opinions about imperialism into the story, as another recent critic also suggests: "he seems to approve of Marlow," the narrator (Achebe 1492). These revelations of the author are conveyed to the reader through Marlow's observations, descriptions, reactions, and statements....   [tags: Heart Darkness essays]

Term Papers
1042 words (3 pages)

Essay about Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

- Heart of Darkness By Joseph Conrad Theme:      The classic theme of good versus evil is found in the novel. . It is represented by the idea of conflict between the civilize world and the savage world as well as the contrast of light and darkness. A minor theme is that everyone has their own ?heart of darkness. . the belief that within each individual there is an element of evil Plot: Exposition:      The exposition serves to introduce the protagonist Complications:      Though they occur, technically, over a period of six days, the complications oscillate continuously through Stevens....   [tags: Essays Heart Darkness Essays]

Term Papers
631 words (1.8 pages)

Opposing Forces in Heart of Darkness Essay

- Opposing Forces in Heart of Darkness         In Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad sets up the opposing forces of black and white in order to convey the theme that every man has his own heart of darkness that is simply masked by the superficial light of civilization. The novella focuses primarily on Charlie Marlow's journey into the African Congo, but simultaneously deals with many underlying themes. Marlow understood the basic premises of imperialism, but was unprepared for the world he encountered while in the wilderness....   [tags: Heart Darkness essays]

Term Papers
1617 words (4.6 pages)

A Journey into Darkness in Heart of Darkness Essay

- A Journey into Darkness in Heart of Darkness       Joseph Conrad, in his story, "Heart of Darkness," tells the tale of two mens' realization of the dark and evil side of themselves. Marlow, the "second" narrator of the framed narrative, embarked upon a spiritual adventure on which he witnessed firsthand the wicked potential in everyone.  On his journey into the dark, forbidden Congo, Marlow encountered Kurtz, a "remarkable man" and "universal genius," who had made himself a god in the eyes of the natives over whom he had an imperceptible power.  These two men were, in a sense, images of each other:  Marlow was what Kurtz may have been, and Kurtz was what Marlow may h...   [tags: Heart Darkness essays]

Term Papers
1433 words (4.1 pages)