Racism Exposed In Joseph Conrad's Heart Of Darkness

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Register to read the introduction…Anyone who has read the novel clearly knows that this novel contains racist elements such as the cringe worthy descriptions of native Africans. However looking past the surface of the book, one will recognize that the underlying message this novel gives about native Africans is positive, not derogatory. Hence, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness contains ideas that redeem itself from its inclusion of discriminatory aspects, proving Chinua Achebe’s claim of it being an “offensive and deplorable book” (Achebe, 1977)…show more content…
Achebe labels Conrad as “a thoroughgoing racist” (Achebe, 1977) because of his insulting descriptions of native Africans. Perhaps Achebe focused too much on Conrad’s description of native Africans that he failed to see the bigger picture – Conrad’s message about imperialism. Through Marlow, the readers get to vicariously experience witnessing the harsh conditions of the native Africans under the control of Europeans. Marlow saw “black shapes crouched, lay, sat between the trees leaning against the trunks, clinging to the earth” (Conrad & Walker, 1981, p. 25) as the Europeans in that area fire on a camp of natives. This appalled Marlow; he does not approve of European presence in Africa. He found European presence to be “some sordid farce acted in front of a sinister black-cloth,” (Conrad & Walker, 1981, p. 19) which caused disruption and turmoil in Africa’s otherwise “natural and true” (Conrad & Walker, 1981, p. 20) state. When he saw a ship firing into the coast, he viewed this as a completely ridiculous act, especially when it was killing innocent native Africans. Marlow also viewed the Sorcid Buccaneers as “reckless without hardihood, greedy without audacity, and cruel without courage” (Conrad & Walker, 1981, p. 48) because their only intention was to rob Africa of its ivory and other treasures. And so when Achebe argues that Marlow is just a tool for Conrad to communicate his racist comments indirectly, he omits the fact that Marlow finds the act of his own people to be morally wrong. Marlow disapproves of European presence in Africa seeing how this “conquest of the earth … mostly means taking it away from those who have different complexion or slightly fatter noses” (Conrad & Walker, 1981, p. 8). If Achebe were to look past the unpleasant descriptions of the native Africans, then he would see that the novel is actually an attack on imperialism,
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