Essay about Achebe's Misinterpretation of Conrad's Heart of Darkness

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Achebe's Misinterpretation of Heart of Darkness


Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness is heralded by many as a classic, but over the years has presented many problems of interpretation. One of the most notable misinterpretations is Chinua Achebe's An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness. In it, Achebe points to various passages in the book that supposedly prove that Conrad and his book are racist, and that the book should be cast out of the canon of classic literature. This is a false and inaccurate interpretation, and Achebe's objectivity is hindered by his anti-western bias.


From the beginning, Achebe brazenly assumes that Conrad's narrator, Marlow, is simply a mouthpiece for Conrad's ideas. No more thought is given to the subject. Achebe never considers the fact that there maybe implications as to why Conrad chose a framing narrative to tell his story, and he chooses to ignore that perhaps by telling the story through the eyes of a seamen from Europe with firsthand imperialist experience of Africa, he could better expose the evils of imperial...

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