Tragedy In Colonial Africa By Joseph Conrad’s Heart Of Darkness And Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart

1388 words - 6 pages

Darkness. It pervades every corner of this world, casting literal and metaphorical shadow over everything. Creeping in the hearts of humans, drifting across the night sky, under the bed, darkness is a terrifying, yet quintessential concept in our human mentality. And, as such, it presents itself in cultures and stories around the world to explain the unknown and the terrifying. Through the presentation of the struggle with internal and external “darkness,” both Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart draw upon contrasting viewpoints and cultures, as well as an ironic play of “darkness” between the Europeans and the Africans, to construe the tragedy unfolding ...view middle of the document...

Conrad didn’t have that inside view to draw on, and it is reflected in the Marlow’s ignorance as illustrated in this quote as his ship is being attacked by Africans: “They [the arrows] might’ve been poisoned, but they looked like they wouldn’t kill a cat. The bush began to howl.” (p. 41) As European war-technology mixes with the “primitive customs” of the Africans, there can be no comparison. The Africans are killed in droves, without regard to culture or loss. Marlow demeans the Africans, confusing their definition with the brush along the side of the river, as their “darkness” is unseeable to him, a huge metaphor for the knowledge of the writer and narrator, as neither seem to understand the culture affected.
In Things Fall Apart, however, culture plays an enormous role in how the story is shaped. African culture, told through the viewpoint of an African seems intricate and detailed. There are strict, specific proceedings for every situation, and every tribe is distinctly characterized and portrayed. When Okonkwo accidentally kills one of his kinsmen, a certain set of rules come into effect. He and his family are banished from his home for seven years. The seven years being because Okonkwo committed the “female” version of the offense, by accident. And, his compound was razed to the ground after he left, described as such around Obierika, “As soon as the day broke, a large crowd of men [...] stormed Okonkwo’s compound [...]. They set fire to his houses, demolished his red walls, killed his animals, and destroyed his barn. [...] They had no hatred in their hearts against Okonkwo. His greatest friend, Obierika, was among them. They were merely cleansing the land which Okonkwo had polluted with the blood of a clansman.” (p. 106) In accordance with the tribe’s law, the Earth had to be cleansed, and the only way to do that was to destroy Okonkwo’s home and banish him. There was no hatred or anger involved. It just had to be done, per the rule of law.
The Europeans, blundering around in an unfamiliar culture, failed to understand how detailed and careful that culture really was. They saw the “backwards” people of a “savage” land, cloaked in the “darkness” of the unknown. Europeans could not see the light of society and order in the African peoples because they were too focused on the blinding “darkness” of uncertainty and the terrifying unknown. They could not make any comparison because they had never known anything quite like it, and therefore thought of African’s as “dark” and “mislead.” There is a certain irony to be found in Heart of Darkness, when the pilgrims, the “light-bringers,” coming to “spread the Word of the Lord” to the “backwards and savage” peoples of Africa begin shooting at what Marlow describes as a “mass of bodies.” Reading thus, a definite sense of irony settles over the observer, “I pulled the string of the whistle, and I did this because I saw the pilgrims on deck getting out their rifles with an air of anticipating a jolly...

Find Another Essay On Tragedy in Colonial Africa by Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart

Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart Essay

1737 words - 7 pages , the majority of natives were affected by the political, cultural, religious, and economic changes which are depicted in the Achebe’s novel, Things Fall Apart. The novel primarily focuses on small villages such as Umuofia village in southern Nigeria, and the native’s first and prolonged contacts with the British expansionism or missionaries. In the novel, Achebe depicts the political changes that have occurred from pre-European arrival and post

Power of Women in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart

980 words - 4 pages Power of Women in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart     The novel Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is a commanding account about the rise and fall of an African tribe. The powerful narrative depicts the life and customs of the people and how they change through the years. Theere are many different ideas and characters that are preseneted throughout the novel. The depiction of women is one aspect that is of extreme relevance. It can be shown

Unique Cultures in Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things and Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart

1995 words - 8 pages Unique Cultures in Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things and Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart     There are a variety of cultures in this world and each culture is unique. Usually when one was born and raised in a certain culture, that person may adapt to that culture for a period of time. It is sometimes difficult to look into someone else’s culture, and understand their culture. Sometimes one must keep an open mind, study the culture

The Inflexibility and Hubris of Okonkwo in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart

951 words - 4 pages The Inflexibility and Hubris of Okonkwo in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart This novel is the definitive tragic model about the dissolution of the African Ibo culture by Nigerian author, Chinua Achebe. Okonkwo, a great and heroic leader, is doomed by his inflexibility and hubris. He is driven by fear of failure. He had no patience with unsuccessful men. He had no patience with his father. Unoka, for that was his father's name, had

Heart of Darkness and Things Fall Apart

3782 words - 15 pages My interest in Joseph Conrad is centered around understanding what brought him to the Congo and how the events that transpired there influenced his attitudes in Heart of Darkness. I also wanted to gain a greater understanding of the historical events that led to the colonization of the Congo. This interest is basically grounded in the fact that prior to my exposure to Heart of Darkness and Things Fall Apart, I knew virtually nothing about

Author Bias in Things Fall Apart and Heart of Darkness

1215 words - 5 pages reveals a more deeply-rooted prejudice within white society. Oppositely, Achebe’s Things Fall Apart shows the feelings that many modern African descendants have about Conrad’s work, and the general opinions of white people in his time. Chinua Achebe was grossly offended by Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness and admits that his indignation at that and other examples of ignorance were his biggest motivation for his book Things Fall Apart. His

Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart - The Downfall of the Ibo

2285 words - 9 pages One of Chinua Achebe’s goals in Things Fall Apart is to portray Ibo culture vividly and honestly. Unlike European perspectives of the Africans – such as Conrad’s Heart of Darkness – Achebe’s representation explains intricate customs, rituals, and laws and develops individual characters. Things Fall Apart shows Ibo society to be fully functioning and full of life. However, Achebe maintains his objectivity and avoids giving the Ibo any undue

Discuss whether "Midnight's Children' by Salman Rushdie, 'Things Fall Apart' by Chinua Achebie, and 'Heart of Darkness' were intended to be what could easily be classified as a 'post-colonial novel'?

2322 words - 9 pages independence and become more involved and accessible in the globalised structure of the world.Bibliography-Achebe, Chinua (1958) Things Fall Apart Anchor-Anderson, Benedict (1983) Imagined Communities Verso Press-Ashcroft, Bill, Griffiths, Gareth, and Tiffin, Helen (1995) The Post-colonial Studies Reader Routledge Press-Conrad, Joseph (1902) Heart of Darkness Penguin Publishing-Fanton, Franz (2008) Black Skin, White Masks Grove Press-Rushdie, Salmon (1981) Midnight's Children VintagePossible new literature category: Post-colonial Literature

Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness

1880 words - 8 pages . It seems as though he thinks the Europeans were superior to the Africans just because the language they spoke was different and unfamiliar to them (pg 78). In Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, almost all of the racism is directed towards the Africans. However, there is one example in which there was racism towards another person. Marlow overhears a conversation one night and discovered that the manager thought the Russian trader, who was

Exposing Colonialism and Imperialism in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness

2099 words - 8 pages , and the Critic. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1983) 13. Hillman, James. "Notes on White Supremacy: Essaying an Archetypal Account of Historical Events," Spring (1986): 29-57. McLynn, Frank. Hearts of Darkness: The European Exploration of Africa. New York: Carol & Gey, 1992. Meyers, Jeffrey.  Joseph Conrad.  New York:  Charles Scribner's Sons, 1991. Patrick Brantlinger, "Heart of Darkness: Anti-Imperialism, Racism, or Impressionism?" Criticism (Fall, 1985) 364.

Comparing and Contrasting Things Fall Apart and Heart of Darkness

1244 words - 5 pages books. Works Cited Works Cited Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart, 2013. Google Books. Web. 11 Nov. 2013. Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness, 1975. Plain Label Books. Web. 11 Nov. 2013. Austenfeld, Anne Marie. “The Revelatory Narrative Circle in Barbara Kingsolver’s the Poisonwood Bible.” Journal of Narrative Theory: JNT 36.2 (2006): 293–306. ProQuest. Web. 11 Nov. 2013. Korang, Kwaku Larbi. “Making a Post-Eurocentric Humanity: Tragedy, Realism, and Things Fall Apart.” Research in African Literatures 42.2 (2011): 1–29. ProQuest. Web. 11 Nov. 2013.

Similar Essays

Opposing Viewpoints Of Africa In Two Short Stories: Conrad’s Heart Of Darkness And Achebe’s Things Fall Apart

584 words - 2 pages In every situation, varying perspectives and opinions will be present, as proven in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. These literary works reveal opposing viewpoints of Africa through the use of literary and stylistic devices. The natural, primitive society is portrayed using sensory detail, imagery, and diction, which in turn reveal the authors’ different attitudes. Through his use of arrogant diction

Misogyny In Heart Of Darkness By Joseph Conrad And Things Fall Apart By Chinua Achebe

1458 words - 6 pages Misogyny, the hatred or dislike of females, is a recurrent theme in World Literature. Women’s suffrage was at its prime between 1840 and 1920. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad and Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe, two stories based in Africa, show different points of misogyny, the first being from the time of women’s suffrage, and the latter being after the women’s suffrage movement. The value, view, and role of women was undermined greatly

Suppresion Of Women's Rights: Joseph Conrad's Heart Of Darkness, And Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart

1299 words - 5 pages Women’s rights are consistently suppressed in Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” while in Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart”, the powerful Mother of the Spirits is revered and her daughters beaten and persecuted because of their gender. These authors were vividly depicting the reality of the repression of women during this time period. They exploit the vulnerabilities of women by criticizing all of their stereotypical feminine qualities

Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart Essay

2063 words - 8 pages Chinua Achebe’s novel “Things Fall Apart” chronicles the life of Okonkwo, a strong man whose existence is dominated by fear and anger, and the Ibo tribe, a people deeply rooted in cultural belief and tradition. As events unfold, Okonkwo’s carefully constructed world and the Ibo way of life collapses. The story of Okonkwo’s fall from a respected and feared leader of the Ibo tribe to an outcast who dies in disgrace dramatizes his inability to