Heart of Darkness: Brantlinger’s analysis

When looking at this criticism, I think many of the questions that Brantlinger approaches are important to discuss: at what point do we separate conrad and marlow as narrators?
and how is it important that there isn’t, sometimes, this separation?

Brantlinger notes that the association with the inheritors and his “Abhorrence of King Leopald’s rape of the congo.” The novel, then, is a remark against imperialism (in a negative fashion rather than the racist, imperialist fashion that most readers will pluck from the heart). This is an interesting association to bring up, as we’ve discussed in lit theory– should we associate the author’s past history or associations with the text itself? Hmmmmm…? This idea is not necessarily relevant to the discussion of whether the novel is racist as hell, or a true commentary of the atrocity that was british imperialism in africa. In the beginning of the story, the narrator ponders the river and treats us to a little run-down of its illustrious history of playing host to countless British heroes who went forth to bring trade and civilization to less fortunate nations. The question for us outside of Conrad’s presence in the novel is to determine how sarcastic this narrator is.

Within this criticism, Brantlinger approaches the Congo Diary that Conrad wrote during his time in the congo, and how heart of darkness is not derived directly from this experience that he details of his journey, but rather more from literature read directly after his return. I question why this was necessary to bring up or approach. Again, going back to the idea of separating work from the author, even aside that– there is such a thing as research, and being in an imperialized country as a white man, you might not see all the horrors that are in store for the citizens.

HOWEVER, even if you step aside from looking at conrad and his positions on imperialism in africa, even if you look at the piece of work as satire or a remark on any negative aspect of imperialism, it’s STILL RACIST. As Brantlinger so appropriately approaches the idea of Evil in Africa. even when the white folks are posited as evil, it is only because they function in an african-like manner. Conrad is essentially demonizing blackness, and prioritizing whiteness or europeans.


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