Terry G. Pyle

Terry G. Pyle

Terry G. Pyle

Hist 3090-001

Dr. Mark Doyle

13 March 2012

Heart of Darkness, written by Joseph Conrad and published in 1889, is one

writers’ interpretation of African exploitation. European powers scrambled for

Africa’s wealth, Belgium, Germany, France, Dutch, and even the Spanish wanted the

riches this continent offered. Chinua Achebe calls Conrad a “bloody racist” in his 1975

essay on Heart of Darkness.(p. 788) The issues raised by Achebe against Conrad are

portraying Africa as uncivilized, white inhumanity to blacks, and romance.

Conrad describes a new generation of entrepreneurs, new ideas exploring the

interior of Africa and not “a bloody racist” as Achebe accuses.

Achebe questions Conrad’s interpretation of what is a civilized society.

European powers view themselves as civilized against all other non-European

nations due to advances in technology. The use of steam boats to penetrate

the interior made contact with inhabitants and exploitation of resources for profit more

accessible and profitable. Conrad writes, “Nature herself had tried to ward off intruders;

and out of rivers, streams of death in life, whose banks were sitting into mud, whose

waters, thickened into slime, invaded the contorted mangroves, that seemed to writhe at

us in the extremity of impotent despair.”(p. 114)

Conrad described Marlow’s helmsman as, “An athletic black belonging to

some coast tribe, and educated by my poor predecessor, was the helmsman.” (p. 148)

Conrad showcases the capacity of learning of the African people by teaching the

tribesman a complex task of navigating the waters successfully and ensuring safe

passage of the crew and cargo of the Company.

The next issue Achebe has is with white humanity toward the black inhabitants.

He says, “The real question is the dehumanization of Africa and Africans which this age-

long attitude has fostered and continues to...

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