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By Cyrus R. K. Patell (auth.)

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Achebe continues, Africa as a metaphysical battlefield devoid of all recognizable humanity, into which the wandering European enters at his peril. Can nobody see the preposterous and perverse arrogance in thus reducing Africa to the role of props for the break-up of one petty European mind? But that is not even the point. The real question is the dehumanization of Africa and Africans which this age-long attitude has fostered and continues to foster in the world. And the question is whether a novel which celebrates this dehumanization, which depersonalizes a portion of the human race, can be called a great work of art.

Brabantio, however, directs his rage not at Iago and his disrespectful language but at Othello, a man who (it turns out) was a frequent guest at Brabantio’s dinner table. Eating dinner with a Moor, it seems, is one thing, but having a Moor be romantically involved with your daughter is another. Brabantio cannot bring himself to believe that his daughter could actually have fallen in love with someone as different from her as Othello seems to be (at this point, we haven’t seen either of them). 63).

33 Romance conventions offer one way of understanding what Conrad is up to in Heart of Darkness, but so too does the idea of realism. ”34 Similarly, we might say that in Heart of Darkness, Conrad represents the African natives as creatures of darkness—prehistoric and incomprehensible—because that’s the only way that a man like Marlow could have seen them: the novella realistically portrays the limitations of Marlow and the culture from which he comes. At a crucial moment in the narrative, shortly before Marlow’s steamship reaches Kurtz’s station, we see Marlow struggling to understand the ways in which he and the African natives are the same, despite what seem to be vast differences not only in physiology but also historical development: It was unearthly, and the men were—No, they were not inhuman.

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