Why should Heart of Darkness be recommended for the B.A. Hons. syllabus?

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Lorraine Caplan | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Heart of Darkness is a powerful story with themes that still resonate today.  I realize there are those who are of the opinion that the book is racist and colonialist, but in fact, the story's strength is that it shows us the evils of racism and colonialism.  Studying it in a bachelor of arts honors course makes complete sense to me.  In today's global village, it is imperative that we understand the damage that racism and colonialism have wreaked and that is with us to this day in many parts of the world.  This is an insight students need to go forth into the world, to understand why many countries, and even continents, are suffering so, and to hopefully prevent such problems in the future.  The true heart of darkness is the evil that allows us to impose ourselves on another place, whether it be to rape it of its resources or to imagine that it is for the good of the native people.  Every scene in the book shows the pain and the foolishness of such endeavors, culminating in the madness that ensues when we are so arrogant and naive as to believe in our efforts.  A liberal arts education should prepare us to be citizens of the world, and this is a book that goes a long way toward doing that. 


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