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"Heart of Darkness and Racism"

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Sara Pielsticker

on 5 December 2012

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Transcript of "Heart of Darkness and Racism"

"Heart of Darkness and Racism" Hunt Hawkins (p.365) How racist is Conrad? Chinua Achebe Joseph Conrad Value in Both Conrad is Racist Forms of Racism in the Novel Hawkins argues that although parts of Heart Darkness are racist, the book is not as racist as Achebe suggests.

"Whatever may be said of Conrad, he certainly did not share the most extreme racism of his time. He did not wish the annihilation of all non-Europeans. But Achebe seems to think so." -Hawkins page 374 Imperialism Conrad opposed European Imperialism.

"Heart of Darkness offers a powerful indictment of imperialism, both explicitly for the case of King Leopold and implicitly for all other European powers."
-Hawkins page 368

"Conrad criticized imperialism on many grounds, one being the hypocrisy of the 'civilizing mission'."
-Hawkins page 368 Hawkins does believe that Heart of Darkness is racist to an extent, but Achebe took it too far.

People should study the works of both authors. In his essay, "An Image of Africa", Achebe argues that Conrad is a "bloody racist".

This argument has given Heart of Darkness the reputation of being solely about racism.

Achebe denies the value of Conrad's work and encourages people to not read it. In the novel, Africans were never presented with a name.

They were also labeled derogatorily and paired with animal imagery at parts.

Hawkins acknowledges that Conrad shows that he has limited knowledge of African culture. Hunt Hawkins Life

He graduated from Williams College, Phi Beta Kappa, and from Stanford University.
He taught at Florida State University. He teaches at University of South Florida.


1992 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize


Hunt Hawkins, Brian W. Shaffer, ed. (2002). Teaching Approaches to Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” and “The Secret Sharer”. Modern Language Association of America.
Joseph Conrad and Mark Twain on the Congo Free State. 1976.

The Domestic Life. University of Pittsburgh Press. 1994.
A New Geography of Poetry (University of Arkansas Press, 1992) Professor and English Department Chair at the University of South Florida

Office: CPR 360A
Phone: 813/974-9492
Email: hhawkins@usf.edu Our Thoughts We agree with Hawkins that Conrad is racist to an extent but not as racist as Achebe thinks.

However, the racism present is necessary for Conrad to be able to accurately articulate the differences between the natives and the Europeans and how they are viewed to get his point across.
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