Write a critique of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, based on your reading about post-colonialism and discussing Conrad's view of African culture as "other." What would someone from Africa think about this work?
"Heart of Darkness" starts out in London and also ends there as well. Most of the story takes place in the Congo which is now known as the Republic of the Congo. Heart of Darkness was essentially a transitional novel between the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. During the nineteenth century certain concepts in the story were considered unthinkable such as cannibalism. The cultural relativism (which basically says that right and wrong are culture-specific) was a strong sensibility during the nineteenth century which is why it was addressed in this story.
Modern readers of Hearts of Darkness may find the racial slurs used throughout the story to be offensive. However, in the nineteenth century things were different. For example, the word “nigger” was just a variation on the pronunciation of the word “negro” which is the Latin for black. Conrad was probably not aware that it would eventually become a derogatory term.
In some ways, Hearts of Darkness is a blistering critique of colonialism. The story takes place at a time when it was pretty evident that colonialism was not functioning as it should. On the surface it looked like it was the height of the empire when it reality colonialism in Africa was not thriving.
Conrad portrays British imperialism through Marlow, who is glad to see the "vast amount of red" on the Company's map; which represents British territory. Marlow is grateful that the "real work is done there"; meaning salvation, religion, culture and commerce. Conrad takes advantage of his position and the position of the colony. He portrays the reality of colonialism of the District Manager; a real imperialist. Marlow finds that the fact that the manager is never ill is his only positive quality. Marlow basically...
Cited: 1. Conrad, Joseph. "Hearts of Darkness."The Norton Anthology of World Literature. New York: W.W. Norton &, 2009. N. pag. Print.
2. Young, Robert James Craig. Postcolonialism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford [u.a.: Oxford Univ., 2003. Print.
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