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Conrad vs. Achebe: The question of racism in Heart of Darkness

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Queens College

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documents in English
school essay
2 pages
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  1. Introduction
  2. Achebe's argument about Conrad's guilt
  3. Defining Marlow's supposed racist views
  4. Conclusion

Joseph Conrad said, ?The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; men alone are quite capable of every wickedness.? Only too well does this portray the harsh reality depicted in Heart of Darkness, one that Chinua Achebe defines as profoundly racist. Achebe's points are accurate and precise, his anger, real and heartfelt. However, his calling for Conrad's novel to be struck from the college curriculum is a direct violation of first amendment rights. Censorship is not the answer; if it was, then anyone offended by anything could do what Achebe did, and then there would be no books, television, movies, works of art, etc. The truth is, everything everywhere is going to offend someone somewhere. Conrad's novella harbors great resentment for and reflects negative stereotypes against the people of the African Congo, but even so, I believe that Heart of Darkness remains neither an offensive nor a racist book, but rather quite the opposite. Conrad is trying to portray the darkness at the heart of war, depicting the English as superior and the natives as savages, so that he can then touch the reader with the intensity of Marlow's realization?that in times of war, everyone becomes a savage.

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