Colonialism And Imperialism In Joseph Conrad's Heart Of Darkness

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Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness, which describes the colonization of Africa and its ramifications, was published in 1899 when colonialism and imperialism were still at their full strength. Many have praised the story as an excellent example of anti-imperialism, but some have condemned it as well. In my opinion, Heart of Darkness does provide subtle criticism of imperialism, but racist and dehumanizing descriptions of Africa and its natives are much more prominent.

In the 19th and 20th century it was a universal truth that black people are inferior and uncivilized beasts and that it is white people’s duty to bring them on the right track – to civilize them. That ideology was widespread in the West and few dared to speak against it because it is difficult to fight the belief which is inhered in the society. This could be a reason why Conrad did not write about his objection to imperialism more clearly. Still, he could have tried harder to not represent African people as savages, but as normal human beings.

Chinua Achebe claims that Heart of Darkness is racist and “[t]hat this simple truth is glossed over in criticisms of his work (...) due to the fact that white racism against Africa is such a normal way of thinking that its manifestations go completely unremarked.” (21) Similarly, Rino Zhuwarara writes that by describing Africa and its inhabitants in a stereotypical way, using “myths and prejudices” Conrad “is in fact pandering to the predilections of a

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