Joseph Conrad's ironic use of racism
Singh, Taramattie (2004)
Masters, Department of English, Central Connecticut State University.
The purpose of this thesis is to examine Joseph Conrad's ironic use of racism in Almayer's Folly (1895), Heart of Darkness (1902), and The Nigger of the Narcissus (1898), in which he subverts many of the racist stereotypes about people of color that were commonly held by nineteenth-century Europeans. Conrad primarily uses stable irony, in which "the speaker or author makes available to the reader an assertion or position which, whether explicit or implied, serves as firm ground for ironically qualifying or subverting the surface meaning" (Abrams 136). I choose to characterize the racism in the aforementioned works by Conrad as stable irony because Conrad ironically subverts the surface meanings or stereotypes of racism. On the surface, Almayer's Folly, Heart of Darkness, and The Nigger of the Narcissus may appear as if Conrad is writing from a typical nineteenth century racist European point of view. However, on closer examination, Conrad uses racism in a much more complex and sophisticated manner, one which subverts racist European assumptions about people of color through irony.