Heart Of Darkness By Joseph Conrad

1355 words - 5 pages

Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Our world has been plagued by racism before biblical times. Two of the most inhumane outgrowths of racism are detribalization and slavery. During the nineteenth-century European Imperialism, racism led to many acts of inhumanity by Europeans, particularly in Africa. Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness presents us with a fictional account of these inhumane acts in Africa illustrating that racism and its outgrowths are the most cruel examples of man's inhumanity to man.
One reason racism is such a cruel example of man's inhumanity to man is that it is based on thinking of people as members of groups rather than as individuals. Conrad brings up this grouping of people leading to racism when he has Charlie Marlow say, "The conquest of the earth, which mostly means the taking it away from those who have a different completion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, it is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much (Conrad 70). As Edward W. Said, author of Culture and Imperialism, explains, "Independence was for whites and Europeans; the lesser or subject peoples were to be ruled…"(Said 24). The mentality of the whites allowed them to feel as though they could dominate over the natives. This mentality led to abuse and destruction of the people they felt were worthless. A step in controlling a people by dehumanizing them is to simply treat them as if they are objects. In Heart of Darkness the natives are objects, and even more atrocious, trophies to the white man.
They would have been more impressive, those heads on the stakes, if their faces had not been turned to the house. Only one, the first I had made out, was facing my way. I was not so shocked as you may think. The start back I had given was really nothing but a movement of surprise. I had expected to see a knob of wood there, you know. I returned deliberately to the first I had seen and there it was, black, dried, sunken, with closed eyelids- a head that seemed to sleep at the top of that pole, and, with the shrunken dry lips showing a narrow white line of teeth. Was smiling continuously at some endless and jocose dream of that eternal slumber (Conrad 132-133).

Kurtz murdered these people to demonstrate his power over the whole group and then placed their heads on posts as a symbol of his supremacy.
The power and destruction of the white man is accounted in Thomas Pakenham's book about the conquest of Africa by an actual native. "We said to the white man: 'We are not enough people how to do what you want of us. Our country has not many people in it and the people are dying fast. We are killed by the work you make us do…"'(599). Since the natives are stripped of their humanity they are not seen as having human worth, they have no human rights. Denial of one's human rights exemplifies man's inhumanity to man, which in this case is in direct correlation to racism. In the novel we see the natives...

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