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Environmental Criticism In Heart Of Darkness By Joseph Conrad

Decent Essays
In the novella Heart of Darkness, Conrad uses Africa as an aesthetic construct to display the overarching theme of the novel. Conrad is not attempting to depict the African culture in a discriminatory way, in fact, it is quite the opposite. One of Achebe’s first arguments is that Conrad believes London was once a dark place, but has overcome any darkness that once existed (Achebe 2). At the beginning of the novel, the protagonist Marlow is on the river Thames which according to the narrator, “‘has been one of the dark places of the earth” (Conrad 2). Conrad at the beginning allows the reader to interpret this in a variety of ways by using the wording “has been”. At one time, everything was technically “uncivilized”, which is largely what Achebe is trying to express. However, at the end, Conrad displays what he truly means: “the tranquil waterway leading to the uttermost ends of the earth flowed sombre under an overcast sky— seemed to lead into the heart of an immense darkness” (Conrad 70). This disproves Achebe’s point in a number of ways. Conrad leaves out “has been” so he cannot possibly be saying that London’s darkness is in the past. Additionally, the Thames at this point is described as the “heart” of darkness, implying that London is the world’s central place of darkness, even after being compared to Africa. Achebe claims that Conrad’s sole purpose of writing Heart of Darkness is to imply racial superiority. Usually, writers end with something thematically
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