Joseph Conrad as a child of his time
Racism in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness is a topic that has been controversially discussed by many scholars throughout the last century till today. The views on that topic range from condemning Conrad as a “bloody racist” (Achebe 343) to praising him as an “exemplary anthropologist”. (Clifford quoted in Armstrong 429) I think Joseph Conrad is to be seen as a progressive child of his time. For us, as post-colonial readers, the book is full of racism, as we know that all humans are equal, whatever the colour, origin or language. But Conrad grew in the 19th century, where the public view on race was highly different. In that century Darwin published his theory of evolution which scientifically seemed to back up other authors' literature that supported racist thinking. These components lead to an increase of racist thinking among the population. Conrad of course was influenced by his surroundings, by society and by the literature he read. So it is not surprising to find this antiquated racist view in his book Heart of Darkness.
In this term paper I first want to present the public view on race in the 19th century, analysing extracts of writings by Darwin, Wallace and Galton and examining other non-scientific literature. Non-scientific literature, that also reinforced the negative image of other “races”, was published mainly by travellers and by missionaries. I want to describe the reciprocal effect of how authors, being full of preconceptions and “assumptions” when travelling to Africa, reconfirmed prejudices in their own writings due to an altered way of perception (Fothergill 446).
Secondly, this term paper describes how the theory of evolution was used to back up Imperialism and how the supposed “superiority” of the European “race” next to the misunderstanding of other cultures' traditions were taken as... [continues]
Cite This Essay
(2011, 09). Racism in Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad as a Child of His Time. StudyMode.com. Retrieved 09, 2011, from http://www.studymode.com/essays/Racism-In-Heart-Of-Darkness-771082.html
"Racism in Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad as a Child of His Time" StudyMode.com. 09 2011. 09 2011 <http://www.studymode.com/essays/Racism-In-Heart-Of-Darkness-771082.html>.
"Racism in Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad as a Child of His Time." StudyMode.com. 09, 2011. Accessed 09, 2011. http://www.studymode.com/essays/Racism-In-Heart-Of-Darkness-771082.html.