Racism In Joseph Conrad's Heart Of Darkness

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In Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad chronicles Marlow’s descent into the corrupt and sinful depths of the Congo. In doing so, Conrad describes African culture from the standpoint of a man who has never encountered the African race. Conrad uses harsh comments and blunt descriptions of the African culture which Chinua Achebe interprets as racism in his scholarly article, “An Image of Africa.” As a response to Achebe’s views, Cedric Watts states his opposing viewpoint that the novel is not directly racist and supports this view in “‘A Bloody Racist’: About Achebe’s View of Conrad,” which analyzes Achebe’s argument flaws. through discussing. Lastly, Said explains, contrary to both Achebe and Watts, that imperialism causes racism in the novella. Racism is ambiguously portrayed in Heart of Darkness; however, after the consideration of Watts, Achebe, and Said’s views, the extent to which Heart of Darkness is racist can be determined through analyzing context and isolating key elements.
Initially, in “An Image of Africa” Chinua Achebe states his respect for Conrad despite his resentment toward his racist sentiments. Conrad is only acknowledged as a good writes, instead of as a racist, which Achebe feels is unfair and ‘a shame.’ To bring Conrad’s racism to light, Achebe begins his argument by explaining, broadly, that Conrad used Africa in contrast to Europe to show good versus evil. He says,“Quite simply it is the desire--one might indeed say the need-- in Western psychology to set
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