Essay on Heart of Darkness as a Racist Novel

1466 Words 6 Pages
Heart of Darkness as a Racist Novel

Because of Conrad's constant use of light and dark imagery in this novel, it can be difficult at times to ascertain whether his use of this imagery is meant in a racist manner, or whether he is using it simply to show how the Europeans actions are bigoted because of their naivety, or their seeming overwhelmed ness due to the new and strange landscape they have conquered, and their actions are a result of over eagerness on their behalf to civilize the blacks.

The River Congo is compared to the River Thames in the book because Marlow is telling the story while they are sitting at the bottom of the Thames, yet his story takes place on the Congo. Right off, there
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C.P. Sarvan states that, "As for pagan rites and savage dances, the Europeans with 'imbecile rapacity' were 'praying' to ivory, that is, to materialism, and one red-haired man 'positively danced,' bloodthirsty at the thought that he and the others 'must have made a glorious slaughter' of the Africans in the bush."

Next main argument relies on the people in the novella. We will first look at a selection from the text of "Heart of Darkness" near the middle of the story:

"We were wanderers on a prehistoric earth, on an earth that wore the aspect of an unknown planet. We could have fancied ourselves the first of men taking possession of an accursed inheritance, to be subdued at the cost of profound anguish and of excessive toil. But suddenly, as we struggled round a bend, there would be a glimpse of rush walls, of peaked grass-roofs, a burst of yells, a whirl of black limbs, a mass of hands clap- ping, of feet stamping, of bodies swaying, of eyes rolling, under the droop of heavy and motionless foliage. The steamer toiled along slowly on the edge of a black and incomprehensible frenzy. The prehistoric man was cursing us, praying to us, welcoming us -- who could tell? We were cut off from the comprehension of our surroundings; we glided past like phantoms, wondering and secretly appalled, as sane men would be
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