Joseph Conrad has been an interesting topic of discussion in literature with works dating back to the 1890s. Although being a brilliant writer, Conrad has had accusations of being a racist. Many people have criticized Conrad for being this, but some have not done their research to prove so. Through my conclusive research, as a result of a troubling masculine ethos, racially insensitive imagery, and use of offensive language, Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness fuels intolerance by depicting Africans as the European's/white male's inferior. Thus, Conrad's ways of engaging dark skin and dark bodies indicate that he is a racist.
The Heart of Darkness is one of Conrad’s most popular novels and a classic to most who study literature. However, this fame may not be for the right reason. As seen throughout, Heart of Darkness, the term “nigger” is thrown out a plethora of times. Also, the connotation of the word can be used differently; instead of saying the term “nigger,” the individual could be addressed as native or African. “Therefore he whacked the old nigger mercilessly.” (Conrad, 7) “The fool-nigger had dropped everything.” (Conrad, 21) “It appears these niggers do bury the tusks sometimes.” (Conrad, 24) “The niggers.” (Conrad, 40) This offensive term has stirred up tremendous amounts of commotion over the novel and successfully created the accusation, “Is Conrad a Racist?” This shows Conrad's heavy usage of offensive language throughout the novel. Furthermore, this is just one of the many excessive ways that Conrad shows he’s a racist.
Mollie Cueva makes a very interesting accusation of Joseph Conrad being a racist. Cueva relates to the Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe’s essay, “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness,” and forms the argument that Joseph Conrad opinions over Africa or biased and unfair. Conrad misjudges the nook’s cover and portrays Africa as a disgrace to Western civilization. Conrad makes Africa a place filled with nothing but poverty, the lack of development, etc. However, in reality, there are parts in Africa that were as developed as Western civilizations. Conrad doesn’t show that there are developed parts writing, therefore, making Africans seem as dumb and inarticulate.
Furthermore, Conrad starts to depict stereotypes about Africans. The typical stereotypes of Africans included the image of flies flying around their face, the bodies of the Africans poorly built due to lack of food/liquid, and other various misconceptions. This shows Joseph Conrad’s misjudgment of Africans, leading to his stereotypical behavior and a huge piece of why he is indeed a racist.
Conrad doesn’t just stereotype, and he also uses the inferior European mindset. The inferior European mindset contains the belief that white skin is powerful, and dark skin is powerless. This mindset came from theories conducted by scientists at the time that White Anglo-Saxon brains were bigger than black, African brains. Padmini Mongia explains this through her essay, “The Rescue Conrad, Achebe, and the Critics.” Also, Conrad doesn’t just detail his hatred on blacks, but he shows prejudice to women as well. Conrad’s thinking that men are inferior to women dates back to the earliest of times where the thought was that men had to do the work (hunting, fishing, and so forth); meanwhile, women were intended to nurture their young.
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