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Heart of Darkness Describe the racism going on in Heart of Darkness in 500 words.

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atothez17 | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 14, 2009 at 3:10 PM via web

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Heart of Darkness

Describe the racism going on in Heart of Darkness in 500 words.

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mattbuckley | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

Posted October 6, 2013 at 5:56 AM (Answer #1)

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To write your 500 word essay on the racism in Heart of Darkness you must look at many factors of the story. One of these factors being the time period in which it was set. The African natives are referred to as "niggers" and "savages". The white European colonizers treat them horribly and never feel any guilt or shame in doing so.

The white European colonizers feel it is their right to use the African natives to accomplish their goals. The colonizers also feel that they are working toward the advancement of civilization. They see themselves as "something like an emissary of light, something like a lower sort of apostle." They believe that they are bringing the much needed civilization to the natives. 

Kurtz showed this attitude of white dominance in the report that he wrote for the "International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs" who "had entrusted him with the making of a report, for its future guidance." Kurtz wrote it and "began with the argument that we whites, from the point  of development we had arrived at, 'must necessarily appear to them [savages] in the nature of supernatural beings--we approach them with the might of a deity,' and so on, and so on. 'By the simple exercise of our will we can exert a power for good practically unbounded,'". This quote explains a great deal about the racism in this novel. The white culture felt a superiority over the natives to such a degree that it made them feel like Gods. They could use them and do as they wished without ever fearing punishment because they knew what was best.

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