Dr. Alex Toth
May 23, 2003
Racism in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness
"We have to be very chary about pontificating on the "totality of meaning" of "Heart of Darkness."' Written by Harold Collins, who believes when you read the book one should not come to easy conclusions. (104) Many scholars such as Ian Watt speculate that Joseph Conrad was a racist, writing, "...using the word "cannibal" to describe natives of Africa, displayed racial prose..." Chinua Achebe writes, "Heart of Darkness projects the image of Africa as "the other world," the antithesis of Europe and therefore of civilization, a place where man's vaunted intelligence and refinement are finally mocked by triumphant beastiality."(251) Conrad considered Africa as another world, and Chinua's statement is supported by, "We are told that "Going up that river was like traveling back to the earliest beginnings of the world."(251). Chinua continues writing how racism flows through the book.
The first appearance of racism occurs with Marlow's employment with the company.
Marlow's employment begins with his interview in a racist environment in a racist city, which Joseph Conrad equates to a "white sepulcher."(73) "Marlow's presentment of incident, setting the image as a white forecast..." F. R. Leavis description of how white Marlow perceived the city. (198) The medical exam consisted only of measurement of the cranium in the "interest of science;" the doctor was of the belief that associating and commingling with the natives would only diminish intellectual capacity of the white people. The doctor was very eager to prove his theory and leave his legacy with his colleagues. Marlow was uncomfortable with the doctor, asking him, "...Are you an alienist?" The doctor replied, "'Every doctor should be--a little.'"(76) Readers believe that Conrad was being racist against Doctors, an "Anti-Docti." Marlow's employment was...