Misleading Interpretations of Conrad's Heart of Darkness Essays

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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, and how he "set Africa up as a foil to Europe,"(Achebe, p.251) while he also "projects the image of Africa as 'the other world,' the antithesis of Europe and therefore of civilization."(Achebe, p.252) By his own interpretations of the text, Achebe shows that Conrad eliminates "the African as a human factor," thereby "reducing Africa to the role of props."(Achebe, p.257) In supporting these…show more content…
284) In comparing the two views, one must step back and consider that both views are only interpretations on what Conrad may have intended. Since no one can ever really know what his actual meanings were for these two women being so similar (in their movements), and yet so different (in their character), only individual explanation can be brought up. This in particular, is what brings me to question both Achebe and Sarvan's points. By reorganizing Conrad's descriptive words, Sarvan was able to propose that Conrad did not intend for the mistress to be perceived as the "savage counterpart."(Achebe, p. 255) Yet, at the same time, both Sarvan and Achebe each write about what they think to be the right thing. It seems to me that Achebe was looking for racism in this short novel, and that Sarvan was so taken back by Achebe's accusations, that he himself, went and looked for ways to defend Conrad. However, this particular shortcoming of the native woman, is not the only one that Achebe finds. As stated earlier, communication is very important in our society and to "civilization" (as known by the Europeans of the time). While reading Heart of Darkness, I noticed a significant difference in the levels of communication that were allotted between the Europeans and the Africans. This drastic difference in speech was at the core

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