Civilization is not as Advance in Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad Essay

Civilization is not as Advance in Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad Essay

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Civilization is not as advanced as first assumed. Joseph Conrad asserts this disheartening message in his novel, Heart of Darkness. The novel follows a European man reliving his journey to the Congo through story telling to his shipmates. Through Marlow’s journey, Conrad reveals the stark contrasts between European civilization and African savagery. Heart of Darkness explores the struggles of different societies with an intention to expose the weaknesses of a complicated imperialistic ideal.
Apart from the discernable darkness depicted in England and Belgium, and the Congo, each places’ surface traits are not comparable. The civilized European cities are portrayed as refined, but also as a “whited supulchre,” with “prejudice no doubt” and a desire to “make no end of coin by trade” (Conrad 14). The term “whited supulchre” is a biblical allusion, referring to a person who is superficially pure, but categorically deceptive. In its literal sense, a supulchre is a coffin, and in being whited, it is beautiful on the outside but contains horrors on the inside. This bleak and inhumane place characterizes itself to be civilized, and there in lies the people who willingly welcome the burden of edifying the unfortunates in Africa. Alternatively, the primitive life along the African Congo strikes a glaring disparity to pristine European society. Not only are the riverbanks “rotting with mud” and “thickened with slime,” but also, a “general sense of vague and oppressive wonder” sets a sinister tone to the land and people of the Congo (Conrad 11). The notable absence of description of its inhabitants furthers Africa’s and Africans’ depiction as indistinguishable and incoherent to the European perception. Actual people living in this environ...


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...man travels. The advantage seeking habits of The Company wreak havoc and madness in a previously struggling but content world. However, when juxtapositions in cultures and ideals occurs along with greed and contempt, a true sense of darkness emerges not from the actual place, but from within the heart of those who see no humanity inside a human.
If a civilization is coherent, is it automatically civilized? Conrad does not believe so. Civilization has transformed into a false sense of superiority, not coherency and progressiveness. It is respect and a fellowship toward betterment. It is not a ruling over or cruelty to those who are different. There is no definition of who is actually the disparate one and who is the enlightened one, anyway. Heart of Darkness condemns these ideas exposes the troubling issues of prejudice and deceitful practices of powerful figures.

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