The Cruelty of Colonialism in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness

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A nation of tortured slaves with bodies so emaciated one could count the ribs, death lingering in every corner as overworked natives line the ground with their lifeless forms, a people so scarred that evil men are allowed to rule as gods. Unfortunately, the gruesome description reigns true for African tribes that fell victim to the cruelty of colonialism. Pointing out the abhorrent evils of the imperial tradition, Joseph Conrad wrote Heart of Darkness to expose the possibility of malevolence in a human being. Throughout the novella, Conrad illustrates sickening images of the horrendous effects of colonizing African tribes while incorporating themes such as a reversal of black and white imagery, the “fascination of the abomination”, and the…show more content…
Achebe also spoke around the United States and taught at the University of Massachusetts. Although many critics commend Conrad for addressing the heavy topic of colonialism in a slightly controversial manner, Achebe voices the idea that Conrad is not a creator of great work because of the condescending and racist undertones throughout his magnum opus. To support Achebe’s view that Conrad is a racist, he refers to several instances throughout the novella that he believes blatantly point out the racism behind the text. Early on in the novel, the river Thames is described as civilized and tranquil because it runs through Europe, the epitome of imperialism. Contrastingly, the African “...River Congo, the very antithesis of the Thames” is seen as prehistoric and dishonorable as it “...enjoys no old-age pension” (Achebe 1). Although the contrast between the two rivers is obviously a negative depiction of Africa, Achebe believes the main fear of Conrad voices through Marlow is the undeniable relation to such “savage” people. Conrad believes that the natives of the Congo are wholly uncivilized and malevolent, but through this observation he realizes that the natives are humans and the fact that he shares a common relation to these people disgusts him (1). Achebe also points out that while Conrad does not admire the savage nature of the natives, he does enjoy
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