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Things Fall Apart Contradicts Stereotypes and Stereotyping in Heart of Darkness

Project id 1012360
Subject area Arts Entertainment
Document type Essay
Words 1791
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Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart Contradicts Stereotypes in Conrad's Heart of Darkness In "An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad's Heart of Darkness," Chinua Achebe criticizes Joseph Conrad for his racist stereotypes towards the continent and people of Africa. He claims that Conrad propagated the "dominant picture of Africa from the Western creativity" instead of portraying the continent in its authentic form (1793). Africans were portrayed in Conrad's novel as savages with no language aside from grunts and with no "other jobs besides merging into the evil forest or materializing from it simply to frighten Marlow" (1792-3). To Conrad, the Africans were not characters in his story, but merely props. Chinua Achebe responded using a novel, Things Fall Apart: an antithesis to Heart of Darkness and similar works by other European authors. In Things Fall Apart, Achebe tells the story of an Ibo man, Okonkwo, and the tragedies that he has to endure. Africans are represented as people capable of language, not just one massive conglomerate of natives. Their habits are not considered eccentric or bizarre, but since the norm-functioning no more than the variety of Western customs do. Along with the property itself is called a mixture of cities and farms, not a mysterious territory that breeds insanity. In almost every regard, Things Fall Apart contradicts the stereotypes put up in Heart of Darkness. Achebe opens his lecture "A Picture of Africa," with the narrative of a student who sent him a letter saying how he had been "particularly happy to find out about the habits and superstitions of an African tribe," not understanding that "the life of his own tribesmen in Yonkers, New York, is filled with strange customs and superstitions" as well (1784). Western thou...

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