What Is Racism In Heart Of Darkness

Decent Essays
Chinua Achebe creates a strong argument against Joseph Conrad, attempting to point out the racism innate within Conrad's "Heart of Darkness. In Achebe's essay, he explicitly said, "Joseph Conrad was a thoroughgoing racist" (343). Achebe depicts the narration, and setting of "Heart of Darkness" to further prove his point. But, he falls short in one aspect of his argument, when he decides to declassify "Heart of Darkness" as a great work of art. To begin, Chinua Achebe believes that the character and Joseph Conrad are so similar in nature, that whatever racism Marlow, the main character, shows must also be a trait of Conrad. Achebe says, "Marlow seems to me to enjoy Conrad's complete confidence-a feeling reinforced by the close similarities…show more content…
First of all, such a claim is inherently sanctimonious. Of course, not everyone might like the same art, people are entitled to their own opinions, but what Achebe is doing here is not an opinion, it is an objective claim. He masks the claim of stripping "Heart of Darkness" from being great art as his own subjective opinion but later asserts, "unfortunately his heart of darkness plagues us still" (345), which can be interpreted as an objective statement. He uses language to convey a sense of generalization in this statement, with the words "unfortunately" and "us", which attach global commentary to a personal opinion. Achebe is fully aware of the talent present in Conrad, "even Heart of Darkness has its memorably good passages and moments" (344), but since his ideological belief is not in line with that of Conrad's, Achebe cannot accept "Heart of Darkness" as good…show more content…
The very nature of the book is crawling with dehumanizing and objectifying remarks. Achebe had successfully argued his point of the racism in Conrad, but he had failed with the addition of an extra remark. The fact that he dissociates “Heart of Darkness” from great art is the flaw in his argument. Ideology and art should not associate each other with the objective decision in deciding if some art is great art. Everyone is entitled to their personal decision for liking art, but this subjective conclusion should not invade the objective resolution of the greater classification of
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