An Image of Africa Essay

Decent Essays

An Image of Africa Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad has been depicted as “among the half-dozen greatest short novels in the English language.” [pg.1] Chinua Achebe believes otherwise. In Chinua Achebe’s An Image of Africa: Racism is Conrad’s Heart of Darkness he simply states that, “Joseph Conrad was a thoroughgoing racist” [pg.5] Achebe argues that the racist observed in the Heart of Darkness is expressed due to the western psychology or as Achebe states “desire,” this being to show Africa as an antithesis to Europe. He first states Conrad as “one of the great stylists of modern fiction.” [pg.1] He praises Conrad’s talents in writing but believes Conrad’s obvious racism has not been addressed. He later describes in more detail that …show more content…

3] Achebe believes that Conrad deliberately showed Mr. Kurtz’s mistress as a “savage counterpart to the refined, European woman.” [pg.4] As he moves into more detail of the difference, he moves into the subject of the black’s lack of speech. He states that “It is clearly not part of Conrad’s purpose to confer language on the rudimentary souls of Africa.” [pg. 4] Instead of speech they are represented with sounds (i.e. grunting). My first critique was that of the blacks’ lack of speech, where Conrad presents speech on the motorboat. Interestingly enough, Achebe analyzes these points as, at first, being “acts of generosity from Conrad.” [pg.5] But, later states their purpose as showing the Europeans their “unspeakable craving” [pg.5] or cannibalism. I do however disagree with this viewpoint. Though initially the speech of the cannibals can be viewed as “some of his best assaults,” [pg.5] the actions of the cannibals speak louder than their words. The cannibals’ restraint towards eating humans in the novel shows them in a positive light. If you view Africa as a whole, both blacks and whites should be viewed the same. Mr. Kurtz, being an example, can also be viewed as a cannibal as it is strongly believed by the Company that he has become a savage, like the Africans. My point being that the blacks confining from eating humans, does not show Conrad’s as a racist but quite the contrary. Mr. Kurtz’s involvement of the African customs and beliefs

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