Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

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Is Heart of Darkness racist or is there more to Conrad's work?

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merehughes eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Yes and no. Heart of Darkness could be called racist if you use today's understanding of racism and certainly, the way in which Conrad portrays the Africans in general leave us cringing. However, I think that the character of Marlow is remarkable for his time because whereas all other characters in the novella are either cruel or indifferent to the situation of the Africans, Marlow is sometimes disturbed by what is witnessing. Conrad uses this to show the reader the effects of European Imperialism on Africa and in particular in the Belgian Congo.

A good example of this is when Marlow first arrives at the Outer Station and witnesses the Africans at work. He says, "Black shapes crouched, lay, sat between...

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