In this research, the author will focus on the realism of two well-known novels: Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. Both novels deal with colonialism and imperialism in one way or another. However, the views of colonialism in the two novels differ in a major way. In Heart of Darkness, Conrad shows colonialism as a violent force which destroyed a society of savages and barbarians and introduced ‘civilization’ to them. In contrast, in Things Fall Apart, Chinua Achebe shows colonialism as a violent force which destroyed a highly developed culture. While both novels show the savage nature of colonial empires, they present a different picture of the societies they invaded. My main aim is to compare both the novels and identify similarities and differences in the way they present colonialism in Africa.
The major objectives of this research are:
1. To identify which author presents the most realistic view of Africa
2. To understand the impact of these novels on the African culture and society, especially their impact on women empowerment
3. To analyse the colonized’s and colonizer’s point of views
1.2 Research Questions
The major research questions which the author will focus on are:
1. What are the similarities and differences between the two novels?
2. How are women portrayed in both the novels?
3. How have their peers reviewed or critiqued these two novels?
1.3 Research Methodology
Many previous researchers have compared these two readings from either the colonizer’s point of view or the colonized’s point of view. I will synthesize the findings from these researchers and present my findings from both the viewpoints. Thus, it will be a qualitative research which will focus on review of existing findings.
1.4 Literature review
According to Irele, Things Falls Apart is the alpha of modern African literature. This was one of the first novels to showcase African society as a “coherent social structure” with “meanings and values”. Achebe showed the conflict between African values and the advent of Christianity in Nigeria. This novel influenced many African students of the time who started taking pride in their own culture (Gikandi). On the other hand, Heart of Darkness is a novel of the pitfalls and perils of greed, lust, and the corruption of ideals and values by the darkness that dwells within all of mankind. According to Brown, this novel takes on a ‘privileged and a pervasive’ role which reflects a ‘colonialist’ mindset. In fact, Achebe considers Heart of Darkness as a racist portrayal of African society which is filled with ignorance and willful lack of information.
After my analysis of findings, I will comment on who I found more realistic. This will be based on my review of existing researches on the two novels. I hope that my research will give my readers a better and unbiased understanding of the two novels, Things Fall Apartand Heart of Darkness, and they can make their own opinion based on my research.
References Achebe, Chinua. “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.” The Massachusetts Review, Vol. 57, No. 1 (2016): 14-27. Journal. Brown, Tony C. “Cultural Psychosis on the Frontier: The work of the darkness in Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”.” Studies in the Novel, Vol. 32, No. 1 (2000): 14-28. Journal. Gikandi, Simon. “Chinua Achebe and the Invention of African Culture.” Research in African Literatures, Vol. 32, No. 3 (2001): 3-8. Journal. Irele, F. Abiola. “The Crisis of Cultural Memory in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.” African Studies Quarterly, Vol. 4, No. 3 (2000): 1-40. Journal.
Achebe, Chinua. Things Fall Apart. Portsmouth: African Writers Series, 2000.
Conrad, Joseph. “Heart of Darkness.” Heart of Darkness: an authoritative text, backgrounds and contexts, criticism. 4th edition. Ed. Paul B. Armstrong. New York: W.W Norton & Company, 2006. 3-77
Achebe, Chinua. “An Image of Africa: Racism in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.” Heart of Darkness: an authoritative text, backgrounds and contexts, criticism. 4th edition. Ed. Paul B. Armstrong. New York: W.W Norton & Company, 2006. 336-349
Ahluwalia, D. P. S.(CB). Politics and Post-colonial Theory: African Inflections. Florence: Routledge, 2000. (Used through Ebrary)
Assensoh, A.B and Alex-Assensoh, Yvette. African Military History and Politics. New York: Palgrave, 2001.
Brantlinger, Patrick. “Imperialism, Impressionism, and the Politics of Style.” Heart of Darkness: an authoritative text, backgrounds and contexts, criticism. 4th edition. Ed. Paul B. Armstrong. New York: W.W Norton & Company, 2006. 386-395.
Bush, Barbara. Imperialism, Race, and Resistance : Africa and Britain, 1919-1945. Florence: Routledge, 1999. (Used through Ebrary)
Cooper, Frederick. Africa Since 1940 – The Past of the Present. 7th edition. New York: Cambridge UP, 2006.
Hawkins, Hunt. ”Heart of Darkness and Racism.” Heart of Darkness: an authoritative text, backgrounds and contexts, criticism. 4th edition. Ed. Paul B. Armstrong. New York: W.W Norton & Company, 2006. 365-375.
Kortenaar Neil ten. “How the Center Is Made to Hold in Things Fall Apart.” Things Fall Apart: A casebook. Ed. Isidore Okpewho. New York: Oxford UP, 2003. 123-146.
Lerner, Laurence. “The Frontiers of Literature.” Literature in the Modern World: Critical Essays and Documents. 2nd Revised edition. Ed. Dennis Walder. New York: Oxford UP, 2004. 436-443.
Nochlin, Linda. Realism. London: Penguin Books, 1990.
Okpewho, Isidore. Things Fall Apart: A casebook. New York: Oxford UP, 2003.
Quayson, Ato. “Realism, Criticism and the Disguises of both.” Things Fall Apart: A casebook. Ed. Isidore Okpewho. New York: Oxford UP, 2003. 221-248.