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The Two Societies Of Africa Essay

829 words - 4 pages

In Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, something is always contrasted against something else. Within the title itself, the contrast of light and dark is made. Throughout the book, the contrast is made between good and evil, between the pilgrims and the cannibals that Marlow encounters. Using the ironic opposition of the pilgrims and the cannibals will present a way into a post-colonial analysis of the book.
Many authors argue that Conrad was racist throughout his writing of the book, which came out through his main character Marlow and the way that he presented himself. A large racial contrast in the book was between the white people like Marlow and the black slaves of Africa. This ...view middle of the document...

Brantlinger goes on to say that ambiguity flourishes in Conrad’s book and how the title is an ambiguity in itself. He makes a point to note that the terms Conrad uses in his book were premeditated and used for a deliberate purpose. This ambiguity Brantlinger talks about can be applied to the terms “cannibal” and “pilgrim” discussed previously. Brantlinger discusses the cannibals and pilgrims in the story as: “sometimes the natives are so persecuted that they [take revenge] by killing and eating their tormentors…Among the “faithless pilgrims,” there are only false ideals and the false religion of self-seeking”(309-310). Because cannibals are usually known to be meat eaters and pilgrims are known to be religious people, Brantlinger points out that neither word carries these meanings. These words are understood in more ways than one which is ironic because Conrad wanted these words to convey a meaning that was different from the literal meaning these words carry.
In Inga Clendinnens’ essay Preempting Postcolonial Critique: Europeans in the Heart of Darkness, she discusses whether it is appropriate to call this book a work of art when Conrad insults the entire human race with his racist comments about the native people. Clendinnen says:
“The myths that Conrad rehearsed participate in “the dehumanization of Africa and Africans” by parading “prejudices and insults from which a section of mankind has suffered untold agonies and atrocities…Conrad was not only racist but a conscious...

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