Analysis Of The Book ' Heart Of Darkness ' By Chinua Achebe

Decent Essays

In Chinua Achebe’s essay, “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad 's Heart of Darkness,” Achebe purports that Joseph Conrad’s short story, Heart of Darkness, should not be taught due to it’s racist caricature of Africa and African culture. In Conrad’s book, Marlow, a sea captain, is tasked with venturing into the center of the Congo, otherwise known as the Heart of Darkness, to retrieve a mentally unstable ivory trader named Kurtz. Marlow narrates his adventures with a tinge of apathy for the enslaved Congolese who are repressed beneath the foot of the colonizing Belgians. In Heart of Darkness, the Africans are reduced to “savages” and cannibals with little or no moral values. It is Achebe’s argument that due to these characterizations, it is an abomination that Heart of Darkness be continued to be taught. Despite Achebe’s vehement opposition to the teaching of Conrad’s novel, academics should not only continue to teach Heart of Darkness in a lyrical sense, but also a historical one.
In Heart of Darkness, the reader is given the a first person account of the horrors of imperialism bolstered by Conrad’s own experience travelling up the Congo River. Patrick Brantlinger, a professor from Indiana University, defends Conrad noting that, “much of the ‘horror’ either depicted or suggested in Heart of Darkness… exposed Leopold 's bloody system between the time of his return to England and the composition of the novella in 1898-99.” Even Achebe at concedes in his essay, “An Image of

Get Access
Get Access