Books and Movies Reviews

race in heart of darkness

The representation of race in fiction is never as simple as it looks
For Joseph Conrad to write Heart Of Darkness in the late nineteenth century should have been controversial. It voiced an opinion of slavery and Imperialism not welcome in civilized Europe. Conrad's writing is fictional, and therefore attracted less attention than it might have. It's dream-like storytelling is courtesy of a frame narrator, who is in turn relaying the story of the African journey undertaken by Marlow, Conrad's main character. Fiction though it may be, Marlow was strategically placed in this new world to witness greedy colonial power in action, and present it to the people who are ignorant of it or choose to suppress knowledge of it. Therefore the text acts almost like a conscience for the society. Through dialogue spoken to Marlow and his personal contemplation – Marlow discovers a distaste for the white'Company' values towards the Africans they so readily abuse. He pities the natives greatly, but this is problematic as he too uses them, to philosophize on their existential struggle and contemplate subconsciously why white is indeed dominant. Thus Marlow himself reinforces the social values of his time which he dislikes. This dehumanization is indeed more subtle in the text than outright violence and racism, but hypocritical none the less, and provides the reader with substantial doubt over what morality is seen to be in Heart Of Darkness. Conrad uses Marlow's contemplative monologue to divulge to the reader the corruption of imperialistic and social Darwinist values put to use by whites to gain power over Africans, while still showing that Marlow, though disgusted, cannot seem to escape his naturalisation to these values.
Imperialism is the dominance of one country over another. One of the ideologies that was strongly used to promote imperialism in the nineteenth century was Social Darwinism, which was based on ethn…

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