In Defense Of Heart Of Darkness

In Defense Of Heart Of Darkness

Length: 1082 words (3.1 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
In Defense of "Heart of Darkness", and in Attack of Those Who Attack it on the Basis of Racism

"I don't want to bother you much with what happened to me personally,' [Conrad] began, showing in this remark the weakness of many tellers of tales who seem so often unaware of what their audience would most like to hear" (Conrad, 9). Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad's best-known work, has been examined on many bases – more than I can possibly list here, but including imperialism, colonialism, and racism. I would reason that all bases of analysis are perfectly acceptable through which to critique Conrad's novella, or any piece of writing. I would reason this, were some of these bases – mainly, racism – not taken to an extreme level. In arguing racism, many critics seem to take Heart of Darkness as Conrad's unwavering view on Africa, Africans, life, or whatever else one may please to take it as. I, therefore, propose that Heart of Darkness be taken for what it truly is: a work of fiction set in late 19th century Europe and Africa.

When writing books, many authors like to research their topic rather than writing blindly about it. Joseph Conrad was, most likely, no different, though he did his research – traveling through the Congo on a steamship – before writing his book. We say, quite often, that Conrad's work is representative of his travels in the Congo. I do not disagree with this statement, but I stress the wording: Conrad's work is representative of his travels through the Congo; it is not a journal of his travels through the Congo. This point needs no backing; it is fact: Conrad never traveled to places called the "Outer Station", "Central Station", or "Inner Station", though these places may represent true places where Conrad did travel; similarly, Conrad never met a man named Mr. Kurtz, though Kurtz may represent a real person who Conrad did meet. Those who are currently distraught from their entire thesis being discredited from this point should refer to The Congo Diary, excerpts from Conrad's true journal of his travels through the Congo, for solace or more disappointment, depending on the thesis.

Following the line of thought that Heart of Darkness is fiction, many would eventually come to the question, "What is Conrad's primary objective through this book?" Those examining it in terms of racism would soon come to, "Is Conrad's primary objective in Heart of Darkness to promote racism?

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"In Defense Of Heart Of Darkness." 123HelpMe.com. 21 Feb 2020
    <https://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=161647>.

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

Essay about Prejudice and Racism - The Tone of Racism in Heart of Darkness

- Heart of Darkness:  The Tone of Racism “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness,” by Chinua Achebe, addresses the issue of racism as seen throughout Joseph Conrad's work. There is a certain degree of subtlety that Achebe uses to begin to confront the racism issue, but as the story goes on it is easy to tell his opinion. Achebe states his opinion not only on Heart of Darkness but also makes clear his opinion concerning Conrad by the end of the essay. The tone in “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness” changes dramatically from start to finish....   [tags: Heart Darkness essays]

Free Essays
758 words (2.2 pages)

Essay about Achebe's Misinterpretation of Conrad's Heart of Darkness

- Achebe's Misinterpretation of Heart of Darkness Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness is heralded by many as a classic, but over the years has presented many problems of interpretation. One of the most notable misinterpretations is Chinua Achebe's An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness. In it, Achebe points to various passages in the book that supposedly prove that Conrad and his book are racist, and that the book should be cast out of the canon of classic literature. This is a false and inaccurate interpretation, and Achebe's objectivity is hindered by his anti-western bias....   [tags: Heart Darkness essays]

Research Papers
717 words (2 pages)

Manhood and Heroism in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness Essay

- Heart of Darkness Essay: Manhood and Heroism Civility, civilization and civilize, are they and could they be man’s defense against the power and mystery of nature and the primal nature of himself. When man lives away from refinement and education and is living in the natural habitat of sea, jungle, and forest, there can be seen a tragedy of a warrior, in the destruction of nature and himself. In "The Heart of Darkness", Joseph Conrad must go on a quest to discover the fire and passion in his male being and ignite the flame in his heart that is the fuel for his will to survive in the earth....   [tags: Heart Darkness essays]

Free Essays
398 words (1.1 pages)

Essay on Grass Symbols and Symbolism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness

- Grass Symbolism in Heart of Darkness      In Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, the very first observation that the narrator Marlow makes about his African experiences is that when he came upon the remains of his predecessor, Fresleven, "the grass growing through his ribs was tall enough to hide his bones."[1] This juxtaposition of grass and mortal remains may remind many readers of several powerful scriptural images of mortality and the vanity of earthly endeavor--for instance   All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass....   [tags: Heart Darkness essays]

Research Papers
935 words (2.7 pages)

Essay about Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

- Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness is about Marlow’s journey up the Congo River; he’s the steamships captain and his duty is to get ivory. During his journey, he will obsess with Mr. Kurtz, a reputable man who everyone looks up to, but mostly with the natives .While traveling through Africa, he will encounter many natives or as he prefers to describe them “savages”. Joseph Conrad is a polish author and is considered a great writer; furthermore, Heart of Darkness is thought by some to be the greatest novel of its time....   [tags: racism, discrimination]

Research Papers
1417 words (4 pages)

Essay on journeyhod Spiritual Voyages in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness

- The Spiritual Voyages of Heart of Darkness Heart of Darkness describes an outward journey to the heart of Africa that parallels an inward journey to the heart and depths of man's being. Two spiritual voyages are made by Kurtz and Marlow. Kurtz was a great man who discovered a flaw in himself while working in Africa. He lacked "restraint" to control the emerging dark side which he found within himself. He plumbs the depths of man's dark side -a side which civilization and culture represses - but is swallowed up, by these forces which eventually overcome him in the isolation of darkest Africa....   [tags: Heart Darkness essays]

Free Essays
759 words (2.2 pages)

lieshod White Lies in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness Essay

- White Lies in Heart of Darkness        In his novella Heart of Darkness (1899), Joseph Conrad through his principal narrator, Marlow, reflects upon the evils of the human condition as he has experienced it in Africa and Europe. Seen from the perspective of Conrad's nameless, objective persona, the evils that Marlow encountered on the expedition to the "heart of darkness," Kurtz's Inner Station on the banks of the snake-like Congo River, fall into two categories: the petty misdemeanors and trivial lies that are common- place, and the greater evils -- the grotesque acts society attributes to madmen....   [tags: Heart Darkness essays]

Research Papers
2842 words (8.1 pages)

moralhod Morality in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness Essay

- Morality in The Heart of Darkness         "I trust I shall be forgiven the discovery that all moral philosophy hitherto was boring and belonged among the soporifics" (Nietzsche 561).  Maybe so, but the issue of moral philosophy has been discussed though out time and provides a significant element in Conrad's story Heart of Darkness.  In general, the timeless discussion traces back to the first philosophical writings of Plato and transcends from general religious grounds to general applications and codes of behavior espoused by Kant and Mills.  These individuals and lines of thought try to establish a 'good' code of behavior based on something: a benevolent god, extensible codes similar t...   [tags: Heart Darkness essays]

Research Papers
2838 words (8.1 pages)

Penetrating the Darkness of the Congo Essay

- Over ten million Africans were killed in the Congo during the European imperialism invasion that in 1850. In Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad uses the setting to show the detrimental effects of European imperialism has on the mind, Africa, and those who would became intricate pawns in the capitalist greed of European companies. During the book Africa can be seen as a character that is fighting against the invaders. While the characters in the book stay in Africa they find that their psyche becomes severely damaged....   [tags: Heart of Darknes by Joseph Conrad]

Research Papers
874 words (2.5 pages)

Comparing Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness and Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now

- Parallels Between Conrad's Heart of Darkness and Coppola's Apocalypse Now      Apocalypse Now is a very vivid and sometimes disturbing film centered on the Vietnam War. Because it was based on Joseph Conrad's novella Heart of Darkness, it is possible to draw some parallels between the two. Both can be interpreted as metaphors for a journey through the inner self, and each has its own singular message to convey. Apocalypse Now very perspicuously depicts the fact that men have hearts of darkness, and it explores the evils of war....   [tags: Movie Film comparison compare contrast]

Research Papers
2092 words (6 pages)

" I would argue two things: no, and it doesn't matter anyway. Due to the latter, I will not waste my time arguing the former. However, for the sake of those with the fervent necessity to argue the wrong point, I will diverge for a minute, to show those who vehemently believe that yes, Conrad's primary objective is to promote racism, that it doesn't matter anyway. Therefore, assume that Conrad was a vicious racist, hated by everyone for a treatment of Africans so preposterous that it disgusted even those of his time, whose only goal in life was to prove to the world how vile Africans are. It follows that Heart of Darkness would have been written for this purpose. Now, take such well-known pieces as Adolph Hitler's Mein Kempf or Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto. These pieces, though they have been banned from sale in many places, have not been censored entirely anywhere (i.e. they can be found as part of historical research); anyone can read them at will. However, reading Mein Kempf will not cause people to run around the world shouting, "Sieg heil", and reading the Communist Manifesto will not cause people to mourn the loss of the USSR; those who do not believe these ideologies will not be converted by reading these pieces, and those who already believe these ideologies will not be aided further in whatever course of action they choose to take by reading these pieces. People read these books to become more enlightened as to others' views (such as those depicted above), and through reading them, some may even end up more fervently opposed to the point of view being forced on the reader. Similarly, were Heart of Darkness devoted entirely to proving Africans to be vile sub-humans (though I maintain that it is not devoted to this purpose), those who are racist would already believe in racism before reading it, and those who are not racist would not have their opinions changed by reading it. Heart of Darkness has no "subtle racism" about it; no seed is planted in people who read this work that could develop into full-fledged racism. Therefore, even if Conrad's sole aim was to show people how terrible Africans are, it would not pose a threat to our current, anti-racist views.

One may wonder how I can get this far without referring to such critics' works as Chinua Achebe's "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness", Francis B. Singh's "The Colonialistic Bias of Heart of Darkness", and Sarvan's "Racism and the Heart of Darkness". The answer: simply. The three aforementioned authors defend their views of Conrad's racism well; however, I would refer anyone who whole-heartedly agrees with their points back to my thesis. All three of these authors take Conrad's work too literally, rather than as a work of fiction. Therefore, their theses lie at the feet of mine, discredited in their failure to grasp a key point, and I will not devote any more time to them.

In treating Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness as a true story, rather than a work of fiction, many critics sully their arguments before beginning them. Whether or not the racism in Heart of Darkness is a product of Conrad's time or Conrad's true belief that Africans are repugnant idiots, and whether or not Conrad seeks to impose the view that Africans are repugnant idiots on his readers, the racism in his book is blatant, and therefore does not pose the threat that readers will subconsciously begin to believe that Africans are, in fact, repugnant idiots. Heart of Darkness can be considered a good work of literature, should the reader enjoy it, and proposing that it is not one, based not on the basis of writing style or plot, but on that of an "underlying" racism on the part of Joseph Conrad, is irrational.
Return to 123HelpMe.com