Heart Of Darkness Dichotomy

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The dichotomy of civilization and primitivism is a topic often disputed in both literature and society. Throughout Heart of Darkness, author Joseph Conrad explores the primal and civilized natures of both the Europeans and the Africans. At first glimpse, the reader may view the indigenous African people as savage, possibly due to their different culture or strange dance routines. Marlow even classifies the Africans as “savages” many times throughout the novel. Also, a preliminary scan may make the reader think that the whites are civilized, due to their more eloquent dress and speaking abilities. Yet, as seen through countless acts of brutality, the Europeans simply use ‘civility’ as an excuse to mask the savagery hidden within themselves.…show more content…
(More plot). As Marlow is exploring the land surrounding the Inner Station, he reveals that he “absolutely stumbled upon… the body of a middle-aged negro with a bullet-hole in the forehead” (p. 20). The fact that Marlow “stumbles” upon a human corpse additionally displays the ignorance of the Europeans. The reader is led to believe that a white man murdered an indigenous African in cold blood, and then simply left the body there to rot. The murder demonstrates the lack of restraint associated with the Europeans, and the stranding of the body portrays the ignorance of the savage whites. The next day, before Marlow leaves the station for work, he ponders about the “faithless pilgrims” (p. 23) who inhabit the station. He describes the Europeans as being “bewitched inside a rotten fence” (p. 23). The “rotten fence” is representative of the ignorant mindset in which the British operate, which is indicative of their savagery. Also, Marlow describes how “The word ‘ivory’ rang in the air” (p. 23) so passionately that “You would think [the Company workers] were praying to [the ivory]” (p. 23). Conrad emphasizes the compulsive greed of the white men to further illuminate their savagery. These “imbecile[s]” (p. 23) are so infatuated by ivory that they lack any restraint when their pursuit of the good is

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