There is no argument whether Joseph Conrad was a racist or not. The blunt, condescending vocabulary in Heart of Darkness comes not from the character Marlow, but from Conrad’s bigoted beliefs. His depictions of the natives rely heavily on being dubbed savages and figures, rarely as men. Meanwhile, Mr. Kurtz is heralded as a “miracle” and elegant.
“‘Black shapes crouched, lay, sat between the trees leaning against the trunks, clinging to the earth, half coming out, half effaced within the dim light, in all the attitudes of pain, abandonment, and despair.'”
“‘Near the same tree two more bundles of acute angles sat with their legs drawn up. One, with his chin propped on his knees, stared at nothing, in an intolerable and appalling manner: his brother phantom rested its forehead, as if overcome with a great weariness and all about others were scattered in every pose of contorted collapse, as in some picture of a massacre or a pestilence.'”
Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. 14. Dover Publications, Inc. NY. 1990.