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Achebe, Chinua. “ ‘An Image of Africa’: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.” In Heart of Darkness: An Authoritative Text, Backgrounds and Sources, Criticism, ed. Robert Kimbrough. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1988. 

Chinua Achebe is a Nigerian poet, novelist, professor and critic. He has criticized Joseph Conrad for the latter’s views of Africa as expressed in the Heart of Darkness. Achebe claims that Conrad describes Africa as mute by depriving Africans of language and human expressions. Achebe argues that Conrad does not simply record the events, but rather is a “purveyor of comforting myths.” Conrad, Achebe believes, is not necessarily distinct from the narrator of the story, and it is his racism that the story reflects. Thus, arguing that Conrad writes to justify the European mission to civilize Africans.

Caie, Qu, and Li Xiaoxi. "Asian Social Science." Asian Social Science. 4.5 (2008): 1-3. Print. 

The article is interesting as it discusses the relevance of such symbols as “Whited Sepulcher”, the fog, the African jungle and the river to the overall theme. The authors argue that through the use of symbolism Conrad’s creates the theme of hypocrisy of imperialism. They argue that while the “Whited Sepulcher” represents the beauty and sophistication of Brussels and the dark groves represent the backwardness of Congo, in reality, the dark groves are purer than the civilized Brussels. It is through this symbolism that Conrad directs the attention of his readers’ towards the hypocrisy. 

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Hayes, Peter. "Conrad, Male Tyranny, and the Idealization of Women." ARIEL: A Review of International English Literature 28.3 (1997). 

Peter Hayes states that Conrad tends to describe his female characters as incapable of having multilayered personalities. Hayes states that Conrad’s women are either simply good or simply mean. He cites various works both supporting and criticizing the idea that Conrad unconsciously stereotyped women as being simple natured in their personalities. Further in his writing, Hayes argues that Conrad was well aware of his stereotypical description of women and used them to criticize patriarchy and male tyranny. 

Paulus, John. "Literary analysis: Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad." Helium. N.p., 28 2008. Web. Web. 10 Nov. 2012.


The article is noteworthy because it summarizes the three main categories from which the novella Heart of Darkness has been analyzed. According to Paulus, one group follows Achebe’s criticism of Conrad while the other agrees with Edward Said finding the work's theme anti-imperialistic. However, he argues that there is a third group that claims that Conrad was not anti-imperialistic, but rather that he was anti-Belgian imperialism. Paulus cities Pericles Lewis, the author of “His Sympathies Were in the Right Place': Heart of Darkness and the Discourse of National Character", who states that Conrad and Marlow were ready to defend England and and its Ideas of imperialism. So according to Lewis, Conrad and Marlow were pro-English imperialism.

Said, Edward W. Two Visions in 'Heart of Darkness'. Vintage, 1994.

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Edward Said, the author of Orientalism, argues against Achebe Chinua’s claims that Conrad was a racist himself. According to Said, Conrad was amongst the few British who were aware of their doings in Africa. Said states, “ Conrad realized that the darkness had the potential to be colonized but also that it had to be recognized as independent.” He goes on to state that it is unreasonable to judge Conrad and his characters from a modern viewpoint, since they lived during the time of imperialism and could not have imagined a world without it. Said’s work is important because it helps to create an environment for an unbiased evaluation of the Heart of Darkness by presenting a counter argument to Achebe’s work.


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