Heart of Darkness portrays Africa and its inhabitants as a dark world,the opposite of the "civilized" land of Europe.It is a place where savageness and the bestial side of human nature reign free.It was "a place of darkness". (p.71)The natives are often described as objects,more like they are part of the landscape rather than the human beings that they are. This leads to argument over whether or not it was Joseph Conrad's intention to portray the African civilization as less-than-human, or if it is a consequence of the times and common views.
One argument is that Conrad does not actually believe this himself, but is showing the reader what the main character, Marlow, feels.Conrad would then not be holding these views in favor but perhaps subjecting them to criticism.It is my belief that Conrad was not actually a racist, certainly not by the standards of the time in which he was living, but a writer who became misunderstood through harsh criticism.
Though he gives the natives in the story a bare minimum of human-like qualities, describing them repeatedly as savage and wild, like animals, it can also be noted that he does not seem to hold favor with the Europeans in the story either.They are, at best, greedy, dim-witted, cowardly, or mentally unstable, as Kurtz, one of the most important people to the Company, turned out to be.In fact, he is often less generous to the Europeans than to the natives.This supports the argument that the main point of the story was to expose the colonization missions as less-than helpful or even civilized than were thought to be. It must also be taken into account the time period that Heart of Darkness was written in.The early 1900's were not the most racially respectful times in the past century.It is likely that the word"nigger", used many times throughout the book, was not considered as bad an epithet as it is today.Also,Ma…
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