In the short novel “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad, the story starts off by talking about the protagonist, Marlow, leading his trip to Africa. Throughout the book, the reader’s experience stories on European colonization, and Africa in general. Chinua Achebe,writer of “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness”, criticizes Conrad’s novel, “Heart of Darkness” on his different view of racism towards people of Africa and Africa as a continent.
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Although the language that was portrayed to describe Africans in the novel was constructed during an era of imperialism when was appropriate to use, it doesn’t justify Conrad’s book as a whole. Even though Conrad’s novel, Heart of Darkness, offers a great literary work, the novel should still be studied alongside Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness” essay to provide an understanding of racism from the dehumanization of Africa and its people.
One form of dehumanization factor that is portrayed in “Heart of Darkness” is when Conrad uses many racist descriptions of the African people. During his first visit to Africa on his way to Congo, he observed that “The prehistoric man was cursing us, praying to us, welcoming us– who could tell?” (Conrad).With the perspective of describing African people as underdeveloped and his use of words such as s “prehistoric”, “savage”, and even the derogatory N word, despite most African people in the novel were faceless and unnamed. During the novel, the protagonist, Marlow and the other white people disrespected the African people in a way that justified that being a light pigment meant superiority.
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