Heart of Darkness is an important example of modernist novel in English literature. It is full of symbols. A symbol is used to imply a hidden meaning behind the surface. When we look at symbols, we can understand the meaning attached to them. Through the story, places, and characters mentioned in the novel, Joseph Conrad wants to show the truth of colonialism and its effect on both white and black people.
So Conrad’s obsession, (as you call it) in the book with the colour of peoples skin: “long black legs” and “long black arms” and the manager’s helper putting his “insolent black head in the doorway” has to be taken in consideration with the fact of the historical context in which he lived. In fact at that time he would probably have been unable to present the story in anything other than an imperialistic point of view, as in fact would any other author writing about Africa from that same period. However it does give us the opportunity through Marlow’s thoughts and observations in the novel to see how the Europeans dominated certain parts of Africa for their own use and advancement and should also be taken as a historical insight into those times of what was considered to be both normal and
In another important essay response to Heart of Darkness Edward Said not only discusses the novella but responds to Achebe’s essay challenging whether or not Conrad’s words represent overt racism as Achebe states. Said claims that when writing about the natives and their incapability of independence is due to Conrad’s lack of view of the alternatives to imperialism; Conrad did not live to see what happens when imperialism came to an end (essay guy). Conrad allows readers today to see an Africa that is not made up of dozens of European colonies, even if he himself might have had a very limited idea of what Africa was like (Said
There is this perceived need to stand up for African and other previously colonized indigenous cultures. In this project, I endeavour to critically analyse Chinua Achebe's exploration of colonialism and its impacts on the African society, particularly referring to his first novel, his seminal work, Things Fall Apart. The Igbo society, as depicted in the novel, going through the throes of change due to colonialism becomes symbolic of the entire Africa itself. Analysing the novel closely, I shall look into the contradictory sets of critical views that have come the writer's way, where some critics look at his novel as a simple depiction of a certain society without providing any critique whatsoever while the others appreciate this very style of writing as critiquing the hitherto set Western ideas regarding literary works and their reception. I have also tried to understand Achebe's novel better by studying his non-fictional discourse on colonialism--- essays and interviews, for instance, which have been discussed further in the chapters mentioned.
(7) Consequently, imperialism caused African cultural heritage to become replaced by a prosperous European-based one. Moreover, Western civilization became the ideal civilization, and became way superior to African “civilization.” As a consequence, African tradition became perceived as primitive, outmoded, and sadly not welcomed by the rest of the world. Unfortunately, a lot of Africans experienced a trend of a dying out culture. (2) It can be implied that even the Africans’ self-perception dropped because the only lifestyle they knew was suddenly taken away from them and they were taught that it was substandard. Therefore, the indigenous inhabitants of the colonies, the Africans, had to adapt to a new, “superlative” culture and view it as more sophisticated than theirs.
As cited in sevensson, 2010, P.8). However Conrad stated that his idea behind this novel was to show how the “criminality of inefficiency and pure selfishness of tackling of the civilizing work in Africa.” (ibd, 1902. As cited in sevensson, 2010, P.5). The character description of Mr. Kurtz, Mr. Marlow and the image of native portrayed in the novel “Heart Of Darkness” gives a negative criticism towards the colonizers in general. The first image seen in the novel that shows the criticism against colonizer is when the chief of the village was hammered with a stick by one of the white men; through this picture Conrad is criticizing the attitude of colonizer’s towards natives.
The change of a person and the fall of culture occurred due to colonialism. The fall of culture due to westernization are portrayed in attention to issues of actions, behaviours and statements of characters and cultural realism. Hence leading to a conclu-sion, cultural clashes laid the path for the western ones. It also intends to indicate the extent of the damage in the relationship between Africans and their natural world caused by the event of colonization. KEYWORDS – African culture, Colonialism, Westernization, the fall of culture and the fall of man.
Achebe’s talk sparked an uncontrolled response which altered the entire field of Conrad’s criticism. Andrea White represents that Conrad’s “very backgrounding of native peoples and landscapes is objectionable”, ( The introduction and first chapter of: Harrison, Nicholas. Postcolonial criticism: History theory and the Work of Fiction. Polity, 2003.) an analysis that refers to Achebe’s argument that Heart of Darkness “uses a setting and backdrop which eliminates the African as human factor”.
Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, published in 1899, focuses on the effects that imperialism has on the human mind. However, it has been widely criticized for its racist language and depiction of Africa. Regardless, this novel serves as a literary work of art and should not be seen solely as a racist novel. Heart of Darkness shows Marlow’s shift in perspective in respect to imperialism. Marlow has an imperialistic point of view, but he is more judgmental of it than in favor of it.
The American novel, in this sense, is a conquest of the frontier, as it describes our experience and creates it. Invisible Man epitomizes the essence of being an African-American by recreating his cultural image aesthetically and contributing to the creative development of both the African-American culture and the American novel. It is a unique representation of cultural politics practised in America. Ellison’s Invisible Man gives the most comprehensive treatment of Black predicament in twentieth century fiction. Invisibility is the absence of social reality felt by the Blacks, whose colour prevents them from being seen by others as individuals.