View Full Version : Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Essay Question. (-.-'') help, anyone?

08-26-2007, 08:08 AM
Hey there,
Has anyone heard of Chinya Achebe's essay in response to Heart of Darkness?

I have to use that essay to "discuss whether or not Conrad was a racist or if the novel is a critique of colonializm".

If anyone could help any, that'd be great.

10-24-2007, 11:36 AM
I'm not sure if you found this yet, but here's a link to a website with his essay responding to Heart of Darkness. Hope this helps!!


10-26-2007, 12:39 AM
From my perspective because i have read THINGS FALL APART AND HEART OF DARKNESS I think that Conrad did not mean to be racist to any one. You have to look at it during the time and century that they were in and when the book was written. If he has said anything bad about the Africans, he did not mean to. Cannibles was what Conrad called them in his book but that was the only word that they knew to call them by. there was not any words to substitute for that. Well that is my opinion about if Conrad was being racist. Hopefully that helps you out!!

Yvonne Sturgeon
11-01-2007, 06:40 PM
Be aware of the fact that Conrad uses contrasting themes for white/black; good/evil; light/dark. The dark Congo is a place of blackness i.e. unknown, but NOT necessarily evil natives. The white ivory trade is made up of Belgium from a "whited sepulchre" of a city. Look the word up and see this is meant to point out the "beautiful" outside is NOT necessarily good/whole on the inside. Conrad wants you to see that our reality is only as far as we believe it exists; the nuns with black hoods "guard" a door where the doctor waits on the other side to "measure" heads- and for what? People, he knows, who will never return. The misguided, fruitless activity by the so-called people in charge is evident everywhere from the piles of rusting metal to the rotting meat- Conrad is pointing out the waste the whites are responsible for, and how the natives are subjected to it. If anything, I would say Conrad is the exact opposite of a racist, if there was a word for that.

12-10-2007, 08:11 PM
It's funny that this is a post because we were just discussing this in my AP English class today. A majority of the class, myself included, really didn't believe that Conrad was trying to be racist. In fact, I think he was simply trying to make a good novel. I actually had to answer a question that is similar to yours. I'll post it...

1. I disagree with Achebe when he says Conrad is purposely over exaggerating to make the Africans of that time seem uncivilized and barbaric. I donít believe Conrad was trying to portray those people in a negative way, he was simply documenting what he witnessed while he was there. Conrad was there for about six months, and being a firsthand witness, he has a right to form an opinion on his surroundings. This book could have taken place anywhere and the main character, Marlow, still would have seen the lives of the people as different and strange. Being so separate in the ways of life, he would have documented it, noting how his life at home was so unlike the lives of the Africans. Even more, the novel isnít a documentary and is not trying to force an opinion upon the reader. Conrad is simply trying to entertain his audience. The story isnít centered around the lives of the Africans, but instead around the interaction between Kurtz and Marlow. Conrad wanted to write an adventure story, with a hero that endures scary and difficult situations. By making the natives savage and dangerous, it makes Marlowís situation much more drastic and interesting.