Ethnocentrism: with Whom Resides the Heart of Darkness?

Topics: Chinua Achebe, Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness Pages: 3 (790 words) Published: April 3, 2007
Ethnocentrism 1


With Whom Resides the Heart of Darkness?

Antonio Arevalo

James Campbell High School

Ethnocentrism 2

This paper discusses Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad's most acclaimed novel, and attempts to determine what the "heart of darkness" that Conrad speaks of is. I found, through my interpretations, that the "heart of darkness" is the ethnocentrism that Europeans maintained in the age of colonialism. More specifically, this ethnocentrism brought about sweeping ignorance and failed to erect a bridge between the Europeans and the newly discovered African natives in the book.

Ethnocentrism 3
Critically lauded as one of the foremost novels of the twentieth century, Heart of Darkness has been deemed an ironic tale that contains an impressive contemplation on the relationship between ‘civilization' and ‘barbarity'. Yet, as time passes and new perspectives are born, Heart of Darkness has come into scrutiny as of late. In his analysis of the novel, Peter Mwikisa, a professor from the University of Botswana, states that Robert Kimbough (as cited by Mwikisa, 2000) regards Chinua Achebe's piece on the Joseph Conrad novel, a biting take on Conrad's work, as a "new moment in Conrad criticism" (p.1). Achebe's commentary (as cited by Mwikisa, 2000), in particular, argues, "Conrad's image of Africa…nullifies…pretensions and compromises its artistic merit (p.1). Which then begs the question: With new criticism and perspectives, what is the real "heart of darkness" that Conrad speaks of? New articles suggest that perhaps, instead of the sinister recesses of the "Dark Continent", it resided within the purportedly illuminated civilization of Europe. In my eyes, the "heart of darkness" dwelt within the ethnocentric thought adapted by Europeans. It is their naïve idealism, devoid of any consideration for the values and thinking of African society, which brought about a sense of superiority over the supposedly savage peoples of...

Cited: Achebe, Chinua. (1977). An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad 's 'Heart of Darkness ' Massachusetts Review.
Conrad, Joseph. (1990). Heart of Darkness. Dover: Dover Publications.
Kenney, Jeff. (n.d.). Exhuming Mistah Kurtz: The Meaning of Heart of Darkness in the Post-Colonial Climate. Retrieved January 27, 2006, from
Mwikisa, Peter. (2000, April). Conrad 's image of Africa: Recovering African voices in
Heart of Darkness." Mots Pluriels. Retrieved January 27, 2006, from
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