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Colonization of Africa in “Heart of Darkness” and “Things Fall Apart”


Colonization of Africa in “Heart of Darkness” and “Things Fall Apart”


In “Things Fall Apart” Achebe explains tribal life in Africa and speaks how arrival of white man has actually changed lifestyle, culture, and gender roles in Igbo neighborhood. In “Heart of Darkness” Conrad describes overbearing treatment of Africans during colonization mentioning a number of cases when white men were encouraged mainly by greed and selfishness.

Both stories share the theme of African colonization, and Conrad and Achene illustrate how colonization affects African life, how culture, religious beliefs, gender roles alter. Regardless of authors concur that African colonization threatens native people, they represent different effects of colonization.

In “Heart of Darkness” Conrad discuses oppressive treatment of colonized Africans showing they have couple of opportunities to escape from discrimination and suppression, whereas in “Things Fall Apart” Achebe reveals that African colonization provides ladies certain liberty threatening patriarchal society.

In “Things Break Down” Achebe shows that prior to the arrival of the white guy gender functions were standardized. Ladies were offered with particular responsibilities, but the world was patriarchal, oppressive and hierarchical. Life in community was andocentric significance females were treated as absolutely nothing important.

They were thought about a part of guys’s acquisitions. As other halves, they “been available in several numbers, sandwiched between yam barns and titles. These 3– spouses, yam barns, social titles– are the highest honors for the successful farmer, warrior, and male of worth”. (Achebe, 23) Nonetheless, colonization brings modifications in culture and ladies unexpectedly find themselves important representatives of social exchange.

They recognize they play important role in trade in the marketplace and in production of crops. Women start to communicate directly with foreigners due to their position in the enterprise of trading. Women’s selling success boosts and, in such a way, women challenge traditional decision-making power in Igbo society.

Even more, Achebe reveals that colonization adversely impacts men as patriarchal requirements are challenging by strengthened role of women. For example, Okonkwo, primary character, reflects that white male “has put a knife on the important things that held us together and we have actually fallen apart”. (p. 124)

In contrast to “Things Break Down”, Conrad shows in “Heart of Darkness” that colonization of Africa brings oppression and discrimination of ladies who are thought about of secondary significance. Conrad shows that colonization strengthens patriarchal society and females have no possibilities to leave from cruelty of injustice and discrimination.

Moreover, ladies are recognized through the perspectives of guys. Therefore, Conrad shows that colonizers are all set to do whatever it takes for their own individual benefits. Marlow, the primary character, argues that ladies are exceptionally minimal and they are connected with darkness, violence and brutality.

Females roles are divided into the mother, the whore and the dutiful virgin. For instance, Marlow’s mistress is referred to as “savage and excellent, wild-eyed and splendid; there was something threatening and magnificent in her deliberate progress”. (Conrad, 101)

In contrast to “Things Fall Apart”, where males are still in dominant positions despite particular flexibility of women, Conrad highlights that African males are oppressed; they are shackled to serve the white men. Colonizers exploit human workforce Africans to work for a minimum payment. Despite the spirit of bitterness is created in the people, they recognize little can be done to eliminate oppression.


“Things Fall Apart” and “Heart of Darkness” represent various results of African colonization, however they reveal that colonization brings considerable modifications to culture, religious beliefs and, what is more important, to gender functions. In “Things Break Down”, females are growing of power, their status in trade has actually increased, gender relations are altering, and patriarchal society is loosing its preliminary significance.

On the other hand, in “Heart of Darkness”, colonization strengthens ladies injustice and subordination; ladies are easily managed and controlled by men. Moreover, African men are oppressed also. White imperialism brings imperialism and slavery into the continent.

Works Pointed out

Achebe, Chinua. Things Break Down. U.S.A.: Anchor Publishing, 1994.

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. U.S.A.: Penguin Group, 1999.

Iyasere, Solomon. Understanding Things Break Down: Selected Essays and Criticism. Troy, NY: Whitston Publishing, 1998.

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