preview

Description of Natives in Heart of Darkness

Better Essays
Depiction of natives in heart of darkness:
Among the most powerful and bizarre images in colonial discourse is that of the black cannibals. In Heart of Darkness the well-known theme is adopted in order to make the setting of the narrative more realistic. The best part of Marlow’s crew consists of cannibals who help him in his mission up the Congo River:
I don’t pretend to say that steamboat floated all the time. More than once she had to wade for a bit, with twenty cannibals splashing around and pushing. We had enlisted some of these chaps on the way for a crew. Fine fellows – cannibals – in their place. They were men one could work with, and I am grateful to them. And, after all, they did not eat each other before my face: they had
…show more content…
We were cut off from the comprehension of our surroundings; we glided past like phantoms, wondering and secretly appalled, as sane men would be before an enthusiastic outbreak in a madhouse. We could not understand because we were too far and could not remember, because we were travelling in the night of first ages, of these ages that are gone, leaving hardly a sign – and no memories.
The black here is represented as contemporary ancestor, as physical animal, as barely human body without intellect, and as the landscape is anthropomorphized, its inhabitants become something less than human, a "living" part of the jungle. In this passage the native is contained into a European representation, being Europe’s prehistory, a part of an incomprehensible past from which the civilized European is cut off and which has forgotten. He is the sane looking at "an enthusiastic outbreak in a madhouse" and he has the authority, the power to represent, to be himself only who speaks about the native, incorporating these representations into a colonial discourse which in turn produces the idea of the European being at a more advanced state of intelligence and ability than the African since the later has not emerged yet from prehistory. At the same time, the primitive native symbolizes a past phase of the historical evolution of Western civilization and in a sense he can be seen as living evidence of the process of this evolution.
This section contains many instances of
Get Access