Posted at 10.11.2018
Heart of Darkness, a novel written by Joseph Conrad, was published in 1902. The book is mainly about the experience of the protagonist, Marlow, in the Congo River and Africa. Through Center of Darkness, Conrad identifies Africa as the place of darkness and tasks its image and its people to the readers to being the other world, in contrast with Europe and Europeans and therefore antithesis for civilization. Humiliation and sympathy for Africa and the Africans, was also evident throughout the novel. Heart of Darkness portrays just how white people see the black. He expresses all his thoughts through the main protagonist, Marlow.
Things fall apart, a novel written by Chinua Achebe, was publicized in 1958. Inside the novel, Achebe reveals a different idea of the Africans; in total comparison of what Conrad published in his novel. He views them as people of great history, tradition and institutions. They have families, faith, their own terms, famous and smart proverbs and enormous art of discussion. Achebe persists on the theory that Africans are normal humans "they laugh and talk among themselves like all and with other people who stand near them".
Heart of Darkness and Things BREAK APART may appear different, nonetheless they have some aspects in keeping. The two literature parallel one another in the killing of the first white man, the approaching of the missionaries for the purpose of enlightenment and spread of Christianity, the great use of diction and information & most important of all, the view of black people in the sight of white people.
The focal point of this article is a question; is Joseph Conrad a racist or not? Now you might be thinking about, why would he be considered a racist? What has he done or written to are worthy of negative responses from critics and authors saying him to be always a racist? Do he mean to be always a racist or he misused the utilization of words in specific situations?
Before these questions are responded to and responses from critics are discussed, let's take a peek on some of Joseph Conrad's work. In Heart and soul of darkness, as explained earlier, Conrad gives detailed description of Marlow's (the protagonist) voyage in Africa combined with the people he matches there.
"The earth felt unearthly. We are used to look upon the shackled form of the conquered monster, but there -- there you can look at a thing monstrous and free. It was unearthly and the men were. . . No these were not inhuman. Well, you understand that was the worst than it -- this suspicion of these not being inhuman. It would come slowly to one. They howled and leaped and spun and made horrid faces"
In Feb 1975, Chinua Achebe presented a famous lecture at Amherst college in america, entitled "An image of Africa: Racism of Conrad's Center of Darkness". In his lecture, Achebe problems Conrad's Center of Darkness and accuses him of being a "bloody racist". Achebe also suggests that the book de-humanized Africans, denied them from language and culture and reduced these to a metaphorical extension of the dark and dangerous jungle into that your Europeans enterprise, "Conrad won't bestow human appearance on Africans, even depriving them of dialect".
"We were wanderers on a prehistoric earth, with an earth that used the aspect of an unknown entire world. But suddenly even as struggled round a bend there will be a glimpse of dash walls, of peaked grass-roofs, a burst of yells, a whirl of dark limbs, scores of hands clapping, of feet stamping, of physiques swaying, of sight moving under the droop of heavy and motionless foliage. The machine toiled along slowly but surely on the advantage of a black and incomprehensible frenzy. The prehistoric man was cursing us, praying to us, welcoming us -- who could inform? We were take off from the comprehension of our environment; we glided previous like phantoms, questioning and secretly appalled, as sane men would be before a keen outbreak in a madhouse. We're able to not understand because we were too far and may not keep in mind, because we were traveling in the night of first age ranges, of those ages that have died, leaving hardly a sign -- no memories. "
In the lines above, the reader could realize that Conrad used impolite words to spell it out the Africans. First, Conrad refers to Africa as a "prehistoric globe" that had "dark limbs" living on it. Second, Conrad compares the Africans to pets and objects contacting them "ants", "savages", "glistening white eyeballs" and most detrimental of all that disturbed Achebe is the utilization of the word "savage specimen" that means that the Africans are samples.
What makes Achebe more frustrated is the use of the word "nigger" several times throughout the novel. Inside the lecture, Achebe quotes a phrase from the novel that explicate Marlow's first face with a dark man in his life :
"A certain extensive buck nigger encountered in Haiti set my conception of blind, furious, unreasoning trend, as manifested in the individual animal to the end of my days. From the nigger I used to fantasy for years after. "
"It really is clear that Conrad acquired problems with dark-colored people" he explained in his lecture. He also disagreed with individuals who consider Heart of Darkness a great work of art by declaring "The question is whether a novel which celebrates this dehumanization, which depersonalizes some of the human race, can be called a great masterpiece of design. My answer is: No, it cannot".
In protection of Conrad in my own point of view, I came to the realization that his main purpose in writing Heart of Darkness is showing the imperialism that Africa was drowning for the reason that it was acquiring from the Europeans. He didn't suggest showing any racist functions or thoughts toward the Africans; instead, he wanted to, first, reveal the truth and life conditions that the Africans were truly surviving in, and second, showing the deterioration of one European mind caused by solitude and sickness. He wanted to also portray the true treatment and real thoughts of Europeans toward the Africans through Marlow. To support this idea, even though Marlow was by using a humiliating manner toward the poor Africans in a few aspects, he was also exhibiting sympathy toward them in other aspects.
All in every, racism and discrimination played out a significant role in the novel. Nevertheless, the defending of the Africans and demonstrating sympathy towards them got a major part in the book as well. Joseph Conrad has also tried to show you the true imperialistic acts of the Europeans. However, the ideology of whether Conrad is a racist or not, continues to be debatable as some critics says "Although Conrad saw and condemned the bad of imperial exploitation of Europeans, He was strangely unacquainted with the racism which it sharpened its flat iron tooth".
Things BREAK APART, Chinue Achebe, site 34
Heart Of Darkness, Joseph Conrad.
An Image of Africa: Racism of Conrad's Center of Darkness", Chinua Achebe's lecture
An Image of Africa: Racism of Conrad's Heart and soul of Darkness", Chinua Achebe's lecture
Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad