Examples Of Racism In Heart Of Darkness

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Is Heart of Darkness Racist? Racism is defined as “a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human racial groups determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to dominate others or that a particular racial group is inferior to the others” (Dictionary.com Unabridged, n.d.) Using this definition, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, as a whole, does not condone racism, but rather condemns it. 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) false. In Heart of Darkness, the main character Charles Marlow undergoes major character development as his perception of native Africans gradually deviates from the European norm. One of the arguments Chinua Achebe had against this novel was its use of unpleasant words to describe native Africans. Marlow suggested that native Africans were savages and primitive as he described the journey up the Congo River as “traveling back to the earliest beginnings of the world”
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