In the essay “An image of Africa” based on the novella Heart of Darkness. Chinua Achebe argues that Conrad does non handle its African characters as to the full human. Achebe’s chief unfavorable judgments revolve around Conrad’s degrading and dehumanisation of African Americans. Achebe refers to Conrad as “a bloody racist” as the Africans are either denied address. or are granted address merely to reprobate themselves out of their ain oral cavities. After reading both Heart of Darkness and “An image of Africa” . Achebe’s appraisal of Conrad being a “bloody racist” seem invalid and unjust. as he did non account for accurate past periodical feelings towards Africa. which makes the narrative a great work of literature today ; the immorality in imperialism on African civilization. The chief statement that Achebe brings Forth is that Conrad dehumanized the African people by striping them of linguistic communication. civilization and basic human features. The presence of African characters throughout the narrative is really little because they are finally merely filler characters. used to make a background and environment for the narrative. Achebe doesn’t take this dismissal of African civilization lightly. and hence deems Heart of Darkness racialist.
“Certainly. Conrad had a job with niggers…Sometimes his arrested development on inkiness is every bit interesting as when he gives us this brief description: A black figure stood up. strode on long black legs. beckoning long black arms” ( Achebe 113 ) . The quotation mark on the minor item of “black” barely seems like adequate grounds to construct an statement against Conrad. From the texts of Heart of Darkness. Conrad does non delegate any features to members of African groups and it’s non uncommon to non give features when depicting a group. Besides. there is no existent demand for Conrad to personalise the characters of African people as they serve no existent intent to foster the secret plan. Achebe besides claims that Conrad gives the indigens duologue for the intent of reprobating themselves. “Catch ‘im. ’ he snapped. with a bloodshot broadening of his eyes and a flash of crisp teeth-‘catch ‘im. Give ‘im to us. ’ ‘To you. eh? ’ I asked ; ‘what would you make with them? ’ ‘Eat ‘im! ’ he said” ( Conrad 66 ) . The fact is. during the epoch of imperialism when Africans are seen as barbarians. it’s about impossible for Conrad to set duologue into the indigens without being blamed. particularly if Conrad couldn’t decently understand and interpret the native linguistic communication of the Africans.
Achebe is so concerned with the deficiency of representation for African people within Heart of Darkness that he fails to detect that Africa is merely the background puting for the narrative. The biggest down autumn for Achebe’s appraisal of Heart of Darkness is that he failed to factor in the clip period in which the narrative was written. The narrative was written in 1899 during the epoch of imperialism for the eyes of white people and colonialists. It’s non impossible to believe that Conrad was composing against the maltreatment of imperialism on the African indigens at the clip. depicted through the usage of Marlow. Marlow was able to demo sympathy and disgust towards imperialism in Africa when he sees a immature slave. hollow. death of hungriness and so seemed to hold experienced an instantaneous minute of humanity as he “found nil else to make but offer him one of my good Swede’s ship’s biscuits I had in my pocket” ( Conrad 48 ) . In another case. Marlow approaches his aunt in hopes of obtaining captainship and found her bitter and hateful attitude rather uncomfortable.
“She talked about ‘weaning those nescient 1000000s from their horrid ways. ’ boulder clay. upon my word. she made me rather uncomfortable. I ventured to suggest that the Company was run for profit” ( Conrad 44 ) Achebe’s concluding statement about Heart of Darkness was that “the point of my observations should be rather clear by now. viz. . that Conrad was a bloody racist… Students of Heart of Darkness will frequently state you that Conrad is concerned non so much with Africa as with the impairment of one European head caused by purdah and sickness…A Conrad pupil told me in Scotland last twelvemonth that Africa is simply a scene for the decomposition of the head of Mr. Kurtz…I would non name that adult male an artist” ( Achebe 112-113 ) . If Achebe used one student’s position and sentiment to explicate his decision so how accurate is that decision? Not to advert a position and sentiment non even of that race.
It seems as though Achebe came to a decision without sufficient grounds. Achebe is so concerned with the manner the indigens were represented that he forgets that Africa is simply the background of the narrative. In decision. Heart of Darkness is both disputing and really confounding to understand because it is hard to state where Conrad genuinely stands. After analysing the text. it seems that Conrad was composing against the maltreatment and immorality of imperialism. told through an nameless storyteller and Marlow. However. the narrative hides Conrad’s true purposes. Conrad seems to hold wanted to denounce the abusiveness of imperialism in Africa without piquing his mark audience which were white people and settlers. Achebe was really unjust when he wrote his essay on Heart of Darkness as he did non account for either the clip period. or the audience.