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Achebe is so concerned with the way the natives were represented that he forgets that Africa is merely the background of the story.In conclusion, Heart of Darkness is both challenging and very confusing to understand because it is difficult to tell where Conrad truly stands.Although Achebe acknowledges the double narration in the text and subtle ironies at play, he shows insufficient sensitivity to the ambivalence and contradictions at work in literature.
Achebe’s essay seemed to arise from a tradition separate from the French poststructuralist criticism I was being introduced to.
Here was a literary author who, without the daunting discourse of theory, forced me to rethink my understanding of the world.
In another instance, Marlow approaches his aunt in hopes of obtaining captaincy and found her bitter and hateful attitude quite uncomfortable.
“She talked about ‘weaning those ignorant millions from their horrid ways,’ till, upon my word, she made me quite uncomfortable.
.” For the text presented me with a new way of seeing Africa and literature.
Achebe Essay An Image Of Africa
It was as if, like a traveler in front of a marvelous but intimidating vista, I was no longer sure of my footing.The quote on the minor detail of “black” hardly seems like enough evidence to build an argument against Conrad. The fact is, during the era of imperialism when Africans are seen as savages, it’s almost impossible for Conrad to put dialog into the natives without being blamed, especially if Conrad couldn’t properly understand and translate the native language of the Africans.From the texts of Heart of Darkness, Conrad does not assign any characteristics to members of African groups and it’s not uncommon to not give characteristics when describing a group. Achebe is so concerned with the lack of representation for African people ithin Heart of Darkness that he fails to notice that Africa is only the background setting for the story.After analyzing the text, it seems that Conrad was writing against the abuse and evil of imperialism, told through an unnamed narrator and Marlow. Conrad seems to have wanted to denounce the abusiveness of imperialism in Africa without offending his target audience which were white people and colonists.Achebe was very unfair when he wrote his essay on Heart of Darkness as he did not account for either the time period, or the audience.As he argues, “ 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 bestiality.” Achebe calls Conrad a racist and concludes his essay by referring to the novel “as an offensive and deplorable book,” so despicable that he can’t understand why it is celebrated in the West as a masterpiece in the English language.As much as I learned from this essay, I was troubled by the easy association Achebe makes between the narrator in the novel and the author of the novel.Achebe refers to Conrad as “a bloody racist” as the Africans are either denied speech, or are granted speech only to condemn themselves out of their own mouths.After reading both Heart of Darkness and “An image of Africa”, Achebe’s assessment of Conrad being a “bloody racist” seem invalid and unfair, as he did not account for accurate past periodical feelings towards Africa, which makes the story a great work of literature today; the evil in imperialism on African culture.Catch ‘im,’ he snapped, with a bloodshot widening of his eyes and a flash of sharp teeth-‘catch ‘im. It’s not impossible to believe that Conrad was writing against the abuse of imperialism on the African natives at the time, depicted through the use of Marlow.Marlow was able to show sympathy and disgust towards imperialism in Africa when he sees a young slave, hollow, dying of hunger and then seemed to have experienced an instantaneous moment of humanity as he “found nothing else to do but offer him one of my good Swede’s ship’s biscuits I had in my pocket” (Conrad 48).