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Examines Representation Of Race Within " Heart Of Darkness" By Joseph Conrad.

1669 words - 7 pages

Question :Joseph Conrad's representation of race in Heart of Darkness, may be read as racist. Write an assignment on Conrad?s representation of indigenous Africans from your reading of the novella.By: Ainsley BrettThe issue of race within modern and classic literature has always been and will continue to be a contentious issue of discussion prevalent throughout society and especially educational facilities. Within Joseph Conrad's classic novella Heart of Darkness the representation of indigenous Africans their society and culture can be construed as deplorably racist, yet can also be seen as a portrayal of european values of the era and an attack on colonisation, for example the International Association for the Exploration and Civilising of Africa becoming the ?International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs. In Chinua Achebe?s lecture ?An Image of Africa? at The University of Massachusetts he argues that Heart of Darkness is;?a book which parades on the most vulgar fashion prejudices and insults from which a section of mankind has suffered untold agonies and atrocities in the past and continues to do so in many ways and many places today. I am talking about a story in which the very humanity of black people is called in question. It seems to me totally inconceivable that great art or even good art could possibly reside in such unwholesome surroundings.?The way that the text is imparted to the reader shows a definite sense of european superiority in regard to Africans, their culture and its ethics and ideals - ?a place of unspeakable riches? that was waiting for ?an enterprising capitalist? to ?take the matter in hand?. But it is quite obvious that the displayed superiority of european society is beneficial to the book.The choice of narrative point of view determines the viewpoint from which the action is to take place and also impresses the narrators ideals and morals, which the social conditioning of their society has determined, upon the proceedings recorded. In Heart of Darkness a frame narrator, and the character of Marlow are responsible for the attitudes with which the story is communicated. The frame narrator does not proffer his opinion in regard to Africa, but is invaluable in giving the reader a insight into the european state of mind. The frame narrator is either a Company Director, Accountant or a Lawyer all occupations which would have been and are today respected as ?civilised? and ?proper?. The usage of these occupations to identify the characters rather than their names is the first hint that within the european ethos a person is only as good as, or as useful as his job. This sets the scene for the placing of value on the African people such as the boiler stoker, an ?improved specimen?. The frame narrator is also responsible for first detailing the ideals that are held regarding exploration,?bearing the sword, and often the torch, messengers of the might within the land, bearers of a spark from the sacred fire. What...

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