Essay on Misleading Interpretations of Conrad's Heart of Darkness

Essay on Misleading Interpretations of Conrad's Heart of Darkness

Length: 1192 words (3.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Misleading Interpretations of Conrad's Heart of Darkness


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 civilization."(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)

In supporting these accusations against Conrad, Achebe cites specific examples from the text, while also, pointing out that there is a lack of certain characteristics among the characters. Achebe then compares the descriptions of the Intended and the native woman. Explaining that the savage "fulfills a structural requirement of the story: a savage counterpart to the refined European woman," and also that the biggest "difference is the one implied in the author's bestowal of human expression to the one and the withholding of it from the other."(Achebe, p.255) This lack of human expression and human characteristics is what Achebe says contributes to the overflowing amount of racism within Conrad's novella. Human expression, is one of few things that make us different from animals, along with such things as communication and reason. This of course, being that without human expression, the native woman is considered more of a "savage...wild-eyed and magnificent," (Achebe quoting Conrad, p. 255), possibly even "bestial."

In an...


... middle of paper ...


... what I say to be the truth, then you are lost). The individual must decide for himself and only himself. Both Chinua Achebe and C.P. Sarvan did just that. Each read something that he did not like and wrote about what he thought to be true. When Achebe found Conrad to be a racist, he said so. When Sarvan found Achebe to be misleading, he said so. I found both to be misleading to the reader, and I said so.

Works Cited

Achebe, Chinua, "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness," in Robert Kimbrough, ed., Heart of Darkness: An Authoritative Text-Backgrounds and Sources of Criticism, 3rd Edition, Norton & Co. (New York:1988), pp. 251-262.

Sarvan, C.P., "Racism and the Heart of Darkness," in Robert Kimbrough, ed., Heart of Darkness: An Authoritative Text-Backgrounds and Sources of Criticism, 3rd Edition, Norton & Co. (New York: 1988), pp. 280-285.

Need Writing Help?

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

Check your paper »

Heart Of Darkness By Joseph Conrad Essay

- In Joseph Conrad’s unforgettable novel, Heart of Darkness, the profound words of Mr. Kurtz are a judgement of his malevolent life and of humanity in general. “The horror. The horror!” are the uttered words of Kurtz as he returned with Marlow from his civilization in Africa. Conrad left the words open for interpretation, leaving many readers feeling indifferent. As Kurtz encountered death, he reflected on his past and was fond of leaving the diabolical world that he inhabited. He was pleased to be dying due to his own evil, greedy actions as well as the inequality within humanity....   [tags: Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad, Apocalypse Now]

Strong Essays
859 words (2.5 pages)

Essay on The Heart Of Darkness By Joseph Conrad

- In The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, a seaman named Marlow examines European imperialism before his very eyes and how it is affecting the natives in the area they are imperializing, which is the Belgian Congo. Conrad conveys to the reader that multiple people have multiple views on the natives and their habitat. On the other hand, Conrad also displays how the natives have different feelings for the Europeans that are intruding on their land. Through Marlow’s eyes, we see a very prospective view as he speaks of how he does not favor the treatment of the natives yet he does nothing to stop it....   [tags: Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad]

Strong Essays
1169 words (3.3 pages)

Essay on Heart Of Darkness By Joseph Conrad

- Joseph Conrad’s novella, Heart of Darkness, showcases a steady decline of one 's sanity, through the voyage that the main character, Marlow, takes through the Congo River; this is shown by the french ship firing into the jungle, Kurtz’s letters, and the stops at the three stations: the outer, center, and inner. The first showcase of madness in this novella is when Marlow is about to enter the congo and he sees a French war ship firing randomly into the jungle. The French have a French warship firing into an uninhabited land, so they can battle the natives that live the congo....   [tags: Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad]

Strong Essays
1240 words (3.5 pages)

Heart Of Darkness By Joseph Conrad Essay

- The novella, Heart of Darkness (1899), written by Joseph Conrad, is one big metaphor for the insatiable desire for land and commodity of Imperialist Europe. The protagonist is Charlie Marlow, a steamer captain during the Scramble to Africa, tells his crew of his travels into the heart of Africa, up the Congo River to an ivory trading station, deep within the impenetrable forest of Congo. He is trying to get to Mr. Kurtz- a lead ivory exporter of the area. Praising this mysterious authoritarian figure, Marlow is transformed by what he witnesses....   [tags: Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad]

Strong Essays
1388 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]

Strong Essays
1101 words (3.1 pages)

Essay on Heart Of Darkness By Joseph Conrad

- Joseph Conrad’s s book Heart of Darkness portrays an image of Africa that is dark and inhuman. Not only does he describe the actual, physical land of Africa as “so hopeless and so dark, so impenetrable to human thought, so pitiless to human weakness”, (Conrad 154) as though the continent could neither breed nor support any true human life. Conrad lived through a time when European colonies were spread all over the world. This event and the doctrine of colonialism bought into at his time obviously influenced his views at the time of Heart of Darkness publication....   [tags: Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness, Human]

Strong Essays
1441 words (4.1 pages)

The Heart Of Darkness By Joseph Conrad Essay

- When writers write, it is often to convey a deeper meaning or truth to it readers. With this in mind, we should first take the book at face value then analysis the story to see the point that the writer revels. In The Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad does this very well. The story goes from what we originally thought as just a story of a journey into Africa to a story of indeed a journey to the hearts of men. Conrad’s truth in The Heart of Darkness is multi-layered in dealing with imperialism and colonialism, but leads us to a critique of humanity as a whole....   [tags: Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad, Africa]

Strong Essays
1192 words (3.4 pages)

The Theme of Darkness in Conrad's Heart of Darkness Essays

- The Theme of Darkness in Conrad's Heart of Darkness Works Cited Not Included It has been said that although Conrad may not have been 'the greatest novelist, he was certainly the greatest artist every to write a novel';. I feel that this is an apt description of Conrad's writing style in Heart of Darkness (1902), as he paints many verbal pictures by using expressive words and many figurative descriptions of places and people. An extensive use of words relating to colour, is evident throughout the novella....   [tags: Heart Darkness Joseph Conrad Essays]

Strong Essays
1326 words (3.8 pages)

Essay on The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

- The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad Marlow, an ordinary sailor with idealistic dreams, goes on a dark yet fascinating journey as a newly hired riverboat captain, traveling up the Congo River, seeking out the legendary chief of the Belgium trading company. When describing typical sites and events situated in the Congo, Joseph Conrad wrote "The Heart of Darkness" in a first person's view, with Marlow as the highlight character. As he writes on about Marlow's experiences, he portrays typical issues set in the time period of the late 1800's, such as slavery, trading and imperialism....   [tags: Joseph Conrad Heart Darkness]

Strong Essays
1187 words (3.4 pages)

An Analysis of Conrad's Heart of Darkness Essay

- An Analysis of Conrad's Heart of Darkness In the twentieth century, nihilistic themes, such as moral degeneration, man's bestial instincts at the core of the soul, and cosmic purposelessness, have preoccupied many works of literature and philosophy....   [tags: Conrad Heart Darkness]

Strong Essays
1464 words (4.2 pages)