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Heart Of Darkness Essay

561 words - 3 pages

To respond to question three, Conrad portrays the indigenous African people in many different ways that are all negative. He conveys the message that the Africans are savages and that Africa itself is a place of no order and no civilization.

To begin, on page 17 of Heart of Darkness, Conrad has his protagonist Marlow describe the Africans in many inhumane ways. “Black shapes crouched, lay, sat between the trees, leaning against the trunks, clinging to the earth in all attitudes of pain, abandonment, and despair they were nothing earthly now, nothing but black shadows of disease and starvation One of these creatures rose to his hands and knees and went off on all fours towards the river to drink.” After calling the African people creatures and shadows of disease and ...view middle of the document...

In our time, statements such as these would be seen as complete and utter racism and totally unacceptable. However, at the time of when Heart of Darkness was written, things like these were not only said, but also widely accepted. For this reason, I believe that now obviously this would be racist, but over 100 years ago when it was written it would be seen as not racist by the general audience of the world.
What I believe Conrad is trying to say about human nature with this story is that power makes us crazy, and Kurtz is his example. He also talks about how imperialism and its effect, as well as the effect of uncivilization. Additionally, the reason why I think he had a frame story and had Marlow tell the story and technically not himself, is that so people did not think that these were his thoughts; but the thoughts of Marlow, the protagonist. Also, the comments on the African people and Africa now can relate back to Marlow, and not Conrad. Using the frame story and having Marlow as the storyteller gave Conrad the option to say that the comments from Heart of Darkness were not his words. It also shows the contrast in how Marlow thought in the beginning of the story, to how he thinks in the end of the story. At the end of the novel Marlow's tale has significantly changed the narrator's attitude toward European imperialism. Additionally, I agree with Conrad on his opinions of how power, living uncivilized, and the madness of imperialism can make one crazy in a couple ways. Conrad himself can be viewed as a coward because he could not denounce imperialism without basically hiding it with different ways throughout the book. Civilized Europe was once upon a time also a dark place, and since then it has only become more morally dark through the actions of imperialism.

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