These two images show a direct contrast to one another. The Congo image (Fig.1) has more nature surrounding its river, so in essence, the river will be much darker than Thames River. On the other hand, the Thames River (Fig.2) has been industrialized. As the image shows, there is a road and a bridge. There are not enough trees as the Congo and you see there is much more light in this area. As I mentioned before, Heart of Darkness is a product of its time. When Conrad compares the two rivers, Conrad is right about the Congo because “going up that river was like traveling back to the earliest beginnings of the world.” There is no technological advances to its surroundings like the Thames River, so Conrad is not wrong for that comment or comparison.
Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness has allowed me to view the world through a multitude of new lenses. In seeing Kurtz and Marlow’s disintegration when removed from society’s watchful eye, I began to understand that all people have a streak of darkness in them under the right circumstances. While the narrator, and many readers at the time of this novella’s publication, believed that the African natives being colonized were “savages”, this book sheds light on the true brutes in this scenario: the thoughtless Europeans. The other complexity that I never truly understood until reading this book, is the idea that there is a single story told about Africans in Western literature. Africa is portrayed as weak, primitive, and impoverished in most books
In Joseph Conrad’s book, Heart of Darkness, the globe is imagined as one where there are those that are civilized and those that are considered “savages” and “barbarians” by the civilized people. These civilized people are the Europeans, and the so-called “savages” are the African slaves.
Heart of Darkness: Futility of European Presence in Africa Joseph Conrad 's Heart of Darkness is both a dramatic tale of an arduous trek into the Belgian Congo at the turn of the twentieth century and a symbolic journey into the deepest recesses of human nature. On a literal level, through Marlow 's narration, Conrad provides a searing indictment of European colonial exploitation inflicted upon African natives. By employing several allegoric symbols this account depicts the futility of the European presence in Africa.
Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart Contradicts Stereotypes in Conrad's Heart of Darkness In "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness," Chinua Achebe criticizes Joseph Conrad for his racist stereotypes towards the continent and people of Africa. He claims that Conrad propagated the "dominant image of Africa in the Western imagination" rather than portraying the continent in its true form (1793). Africans were portrayed in Conrad's novel as savages with no language other than grunts and with no "other occupations besides merging into the evil forest or materializing out of it simply to plague Marlow" (1792-3). To Conrad, the Africans were not characters in his story, but merely props. Chinua Achebe responded with a
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
A famous criticism of Conrad’s novella is called An Image of Africa, which was written by an African native named Chinua Achebe. In Achebe’s criticisms of Heart of Darkness, he points out the difference between descriptions of the European woman and the African woman, who was Kurtz’s mistress. The narrator describes the European woman as being calm and mature, and the African woman as being “savage” (341 Norton). Even though many writers claim that Marlow is kind to the Africans by bringing light to their situation, the real problem does not lie in his description of their situations, but his descriptions of the people themselves (30 Heart of darkness Interpretations).
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
Conrad revealed his ideas through his character, Marlow, when we read his experiences traveling down the Congo when he sees the natives and their land that has been untouched by colonialism. Conrad’s lack of concern for the natives may have been a result of his experiences with them during his journey in Africa. Assuming Heart of Darkness’ character Marlow is a representation of Conrad himself, he did saw the native people in both conditions. He experienced them in the Belgium Congo, beaten and broken from the harshness of the colonists and he saw them in their natural state before the effects of colonialism had reached them. One may argue that his lack of concern for the natives was because he had seen them in their homeland and before their home had been changed, and maybe he chose to believe that there was hope left in Africa for its tribal tradition. This statement is simply not true; Marlow fully experienced the devastation left by colonialism in Africa, yet his animosity towards colonialism was still due to the concern for his own people, the white colonists.
Conrad depicts Africa as a land where the prehistoric has been preserved. He describes the journey up the Congo as something similar to a trip on a time machine:
In Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, the imperialism of Africa is described. Conrad tells the story of the cruel treatment of the natives and of the imperialism of the Congo region through the perspective of the main character, Marlow. Throughout the novel, Marlow describes how the Europeans continuously bestow poor treatment to the native people by enslaving them in their own territory. Analyzing the story with the New Criticism lens, it is evident that Conrad incorporates numerous literary devices in Heart of Darkness, including similes, imagery, personification, and antitheses to describe and exemplify the main idea of cruel imperialism in Africa discussed throughout the novella.
Misleading Interpretations of Conrad's Heart of Darkness Chinua Achebe, a well-known writer, once gave a lecture at the University of Massachusetts about Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, entitled "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness." Throughout his essay, Achebe notes how Conrad used Africa as a background only,
Africa is written “as setting and backdrop which eliminates the African as human factor. Africa as a metaphysical battlefield devoid of all recognizable humanity, into which the wandering European enters at his peril” (Achebe). Thus Conrad brings the savages of Africa and general women together. Marlow brings the two victims of imperialism together in one, brief observation of Mr. Kurtz’s foreign mistress. Conrad’s concise description of an Amazonian woman on page 56 is as follows:
He uses derogatory and offensive remarks that devalue people of color and make them out to be savages. Chinua Achebe, a well-known writer, talked about Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, entitled "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness." Throughout his essay, Achebe notes how Conrad "set Africa up as a foil to Europe,"(Achebe) while he also "projects the image of Africa as “the other world”. Africa is said to be a “prehistoric” world. Conrad described this land as non-advanced and inferior to the western countries.
Nathaniel Oehl 4/4/2016 In Defense of Conrad: A Response to Achebe’s “An Image of Africa” In “An Image of Africa”, Chinua Achebe comes to the bold conclusion that Joseph Conrad “was a bloody racist” (788), with his discussion centering primarily on Conrad’s Heart of Darkness as a racist text. Achebe’s reasoning for this branding rests on the claims that Conrad depicts Africa as “a place of negations at once remote and vaguely familiar in comparison with which Europe 's own state of spiritual grace will be manifest” (783), that Africans in Heart of Darkness are dehumanized through both the characterization of individual Africans and the Congo as a setting, and finally that Marlow is no more than a mouthpiece for Conrad’s personal views on race and imperialism. However, Achebe makes critical oversights and contradictions in the development of each of these argumentative pillars, which prove fatal to the validity of his overarching contention. This should not be construed, though, as a yes-or-no assessment of whether Conrad was a racist outside of what his written work suggests—Achebe himself has “neither the desire nor, indeed, the competence to do so with the tools of the social and biological sciences” (783)—but as an assessment of claims specific to Heart of Darkness and their implications for Conrad’s views and attitudes.