The Distorted Images in Heart of Darkness

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The distorted images in Heart of Darkness

Abstract

In Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad exposes the evil of the imperialism and pays sympathy to the oppressed Africans. But affected by imperialist ideology, he serves as a racist and a defender of the imperialism when he attempts to condemn the colonizers. This paper will be analyzing the distorted images in Heart of darkness from the perspective of post-colonialism and Orientalism theory.

The present paper is divided into five parts:
Part 1 is a brief introduction of the author as well as the main idea of the novella. It also makes a clear the writing purpose of the thesis. Namely, to reveal and study Conrad’s imperialist thought in light of the analysis of the distorted images in the novella. Part 2 shows how Africans and Africa are regarded as “other”. Part 3 analyzes the distorted image of the Africans as Orientals. Part 4 gives a reason for Conrad’s Ambivalence thought: Conrad is a British subject. Part 5 is the Conclusion attempts to reaffirm that the novella reveals Conrad’s imperialist thought.

Keywords: Conrad, Heart of Darkness, distorted image, other, post-colonialism, orientalism

Thesis statement

By analyzing the distorted images in Heart of darkness from the perspective of post-colonialism and Orientalism theory, this paper aims to show that Joseph Conrad, under the influences of the penetrating and dominant imperialism ideology of his time, often unconsciously shows his racial discrimination against Africans in his writing.

Outline

1. Introduction
2. The images of the “other”
2.1 The distorted African men.
2.2 The distorted African women.
2.3 The dark river.
2.4 The dark land
3. The image of the “Orientals”
4. Conrad as a British subject
5. Conclusion

1. Introduction
Heart of Darkness is one of the masterpieces of Joseph Conrad (1857-1924), one of the greatest English novelists at the end of 19th century. It is a jungle story about a young man named Charles Marlow who travels up the Congo River into the Inner Station of the Trade Company of Ivory, always cherishing his glorious dream of finding out the "blank" spot on the map that he has noticed since his childhood. But he is also in the hope of saving a sick agent named Kurtz who is known for his eloquence as well as his capacity of collecting ivory. But what he sees and hears on the way and in his destination makes his journey a lasting nightmare that brought him nothing but the moral disillusionment. Before post-colonial period, Africa in Heart of Darkness was generally considered as an incidental setting in which Conrad portrays the western ego’s disintegration in isolation and loneliness. Since Chinua Achebe first accuses Conrad as a racist, a new moment in Conrad Criticism appeared. Many critics began to think over the images of Africa and Africans in the novella and come to new idea about the author and his works. By analyzing the distorted images in Heart of darkness from the perspective of post-colonialism and Orientalism theory, this paper aims to show that Joseph Conrad, under the influences of the penetrating and dominant imperialism ideology of his time, often unconsciously shows his racial discrimination against Africans in his writing. In the following part of this thesis the distorted images in Heart of Darkness and the origin of Conrad’s ambivalence thought will be analyzed. To find out that racism does exist in the portraying of African and Africans is not to deny the greatness of Conrad, but to achieve a better understanding of the work itself and the certain ideology in certain historical period.

2. The images of the “other”
In Heart of Darkness, the Africans appear primitive, savage and subordinate to Whites. Actually, the image of Africans described by Conrad is not the true picture of what the Africans really are. Conrad depicts Africans as though they are “other,” not a part of normal humanity. Naturally, Chinua...
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