All-College Writing Contest

Award

All-College Writing Contest Winner 2005-06

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

5-1-2006

Author Comments

Since first reading it in high school, I’ve always—rather uncritically—enjoyed Joseph Conrad’s sinister and troubling novel Heart of Darkness. Re-reading it for Professor Robert Archambeau’s English Literature II course provided me with an opportunity to bring newly-acquired critical skills to bear on the work, as well as allowing me to consider it from viewpoints utterly unknown to me before. It was in the context of the course, for instance, that I first encountered Chinua Achebe’s harsh criticisms of the novel, an encounter ultimately leading to the writing of this essay. Having been taught in high school that Conrad’s main goal in writing Heart of Darkness was to criticize imperialism, I was shocked by Achebe’s assertions to the diametric contrary. In this essay, I attempt to show why I believe Achebe’s criticisms are, from a formal standpoint, incorrect. But in so doing, I come to conclude that a reading more or less sympathetic to the work itself is also more or less sympathetic to what can only be considered Conrad’s racist imperialism. That is, I suggest that such a reading is in itself morally ambiguous at best.

Faculty Advisor

Robert Archambeau

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