When Marlow arrives in Africa, his purpose is to trade and civilize, but the reality of European treatment of the natives proves to be much different, demonstrating the hypocrisy in the presentation of imperialism. Marlow first describes the noble endeavor that is imperialism. He says, “Hunters for gold or pursuers of fame...messengers of the might...The dreams of men...the germs of empires…”(Conrad 11). The imperialists are described as brave, altruistic pioneers of goodness, bringing light and civilization to other lands, carrying the white man’s burden. However, the actual system of European imperialism does not live up to this grandiose ideas, as shown in Marlow’s subsequent interactions with Africans...
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... to light the hypocritical morals that contributed to an imperial system which lasted for hundreds of years. The cruelty of imperialism, while implemented for economic gain, was justified by presenting it as a benevolent, mutually-beneficial system when in fact, it was parasitic. The “white man’s burden” was a convenient disguise for deeply embedded racism that both Marlow, and Conrad audience refused to acknowledge, as African imperialism continued for decades after the publication of “Heart of Darkness.” While Europeans preached about civilizing the African savages, they systematically murdered their fellow man--the epitome of hypocrisy-- and used the same tactics as Marlow to dodge the moral responsibility. Ultimately, Conrad reveals that the hypocritical, imperialist mindset is inherently immoral, since the true savagery lies in the system of imperialism itself.
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