Marlow's Racism in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness

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Marlow's Racism in Heart of Darkness

Heart of Darkness is an intriguing story as well as a symbol for Joseph Conrad's social commentary on imperialism. Marlow's journey takes him deep into the African Congo where he bears witness to a number of life-altering revelations. He beholds his most striking revelation when he begins to compare the "civilized European man" with the "savage African man." These two opposing forces represent the two conflicting viewpoints present in every dilemma, be it cultural, social, or otherwise. As a modern European man who believes religiously in imperialism, Marlow is inherently arrogant. Yet, although he cannot accept the African jungle as being equally important as imperialism, his experiences there lead him to believe otherwise. Essentially, this is Marlow's inner conflict. Everything he has believed in his entire life seems to crumble around him. His view of the civilized white man becomes tainted when he sees that society is merely a form of delusion, denying its members the greater truth of the world. “The superficial boundaries of society have no meaning in the jungle, and Marlow has trouble dealing with this revelation”(Bancroft 37). Marlow's inability to accept this initially prevents him from eliminating his intellectual arrogance and feelings of moral superiority over the savages. For the most part, Marlow is unaware of his prejudicial attitude, but he eventually comes to realize the whole truth of the world.

Marlow says that the colonizer who goes to Africa must meet the jungle with " 'hi...

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