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To what extent do I agree with Chinua Achebe's assertionthat Joseph Conrad was 'a bloody racist'.

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Introduction

English Coursework - To what extent do I agree with Chinua Achebe's assertion that Joseph Conrad was 'a bloody racist' I believe that Joseph Conrad is not racist, and I think Achebe's statement is unjustified in the fact that it does not take into account historical context. Conrad could be said to be ignorant in the way he talks about black Africans in his novel "Heart of darkness", but on the notion of colonialism he is generally anti-colonialistc. I also believe that Marlow is a mouthpiece for Conrad in the sense that they have experienced the same things to the extent where even the characters names are the same - When in the Congo, Conrad took over a steam boat formerly captained by a man called Frieslieben (Fresleven in the book), and he had to go and retrieve a man called Kurtz (also in the book) - In another book when asked of the likenesses between him and Marlow he said. 'It is experience pushed a little (and only very little) beyond the actual case for the perfectly legitamate...' I think that any reader thinking that Marlow and Conrad are one and the same would be virtually correct. ...read more.

Middle

the quote that makes me believe Conrad isn't a 'bloody racist' as Chinua Achebe says. This is the quote - 'The conquest of the earth, which mostly means taking it away from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much' This, I believe effectively tars conlonialism and conquest with the same brush as he is describing colonialism while saying conquest. I feel he is saying that the two are indestinguishable and that anybody who can define them is stuck on 'the idea' he goes on to mention - '...belief in the idea - something you can set up, and bow down before' I think he is saying that as long as people can hide behind the idea of colonialism and tell it apart from conquest they are happy but in essence the two are the same. Conrad might be saying that although we live in a civil age we are no different to the Roman conquerors. I believe this shows that Conrad is not racist as he is saying that 'taking away' the earth 'from those who have a different complexion or slightly flatter noses than ourselves' is wrong. ...read more.

Conclusion

in his novel (one of his earlier novels even had the word "nigger" in its title - "the nigger and the narcissus" 1897) but as this was regularly used at the time it can be wavered as it didn't have the effect it does in today's society when spoken. Apart from this I think it is clear that Joseph Conrad did not conform in a racist society and had seen the horror and pure incorrectness of colonialism first hand. I have shown that Conrad and Marlow are one and the same and have been led to the conclusion through close reading of the opening of heart of darkness that Conrad is not, as Chinua Achebe states, 'a bloody racist'. In fact I believe the opposite statemen could be made - "Conrad was a minority voice speaking out against racism through his character Marlow in a time where racism was rife". I believe I am right because the evidence against Conrad is scarce and what little textual evidence there is can mostly be put down to ignorance which in my opinion can be let go, due to the fact that his overall message is an anti-racist one. I feel people who think that Joseph Conrad is racist based on Heart of darkness is wrong because of the reasons stated. ...read more.

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