Books and Movies Reviews

Civilized societies in heart of darkness

The idea of a civilized society is merely a subjective perception taken by any given individual.In Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, the molding of this perception is portrayed through the central character, Charlie Marlow.Marlow is a European who is thrown out of the refinement of Europe and into "a place of darkness"(5).The contrast between these two cultures is evident in the beginning of the novel; however, Marlow's journey creates a bridge between the two affecting his views on society.The former standards of what qualifies a culture as civilized no longer stand in Marlow's mind.The ability to believe in a specific definition of civilized is lost because Marlow realizes men should be judged as individuals.He says his experiences "seemed somehow to throw a kind of light on everything about me-and into my thoughts"(5). Throughout the progression of Marlow's journey his views concerning civilized societies are altered based on his interaction with both cultures.
As a white European male, Marlow's beliefs in the beginning of the novel reflect the stereotypes of the age.His views, while not as radical as some, are that his race is superior to the Africans.This notion of white supremacy is reflected in Marlow's description of the Africans as "creatures" and using imagery that is suggestive of animal behavior in reference to them.He refers to them as "phantoms" with "vacant" eyes that are merely "shadows of disease and starvation"(14).Marlow perceives the Africans as unearthly and not even human.Directly following his descriptions of the Africans Marlow offers a depiction of a white man in accordance with his premature ideals.This man, the accountant, is described by Marlowe as a "miracle" because "in the great demoralization of the land he kept up his appearance"(15).Marlow respects him b…


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