Heart of Darkness

That darkness took the form of imperialism and racism. In “Heart of Darkness” Kurtz embodied both of these ideas. His imperialistic nature was shown in the way he set himself up as a god and rides to control all of the land that he could find. He did not even want to tell his employers about new areas which he had mapped out, for fear that they would take control of the land away from him. Kurtz also embodied the idea of racism. He – like those who had sent him on the civilizing mission in the first place–did not believe that the natives were in any way civilized, nor did he believe that the natives could become civilized on their own, if at all. In his report to his superiors, he scrawled across the bottom, “Exterminate all the brutes!” He did not see the Africans as human beings, but merely as animals. Instead of civilizing them, which he obviously had decided would be foolish, he felt it would be easier to simply kill all of the natives. In these beliefs, one can see the darkness that came from the civilizing mission.

The idea behind the civilizing mission could have been a good one, if it had been to the benefit of the natives, rather than the Europeans. Unfortunately, the Europeans believed that the Africans were mere savages. What the Europeans did not see, and what Marlow eventually realized, was that the true savagery lay within the people who were taking control over the land of Africa. The darkness was within Kurtz (and people like him), and that darkness was brought to light in the minds of people like Marlow who saw the savagery in their ways. Marlow’s enlightenment was best shown in a speech he made about first entering the deeper part of Africa. He said, “I seemed at one bound to have been transported into some lightless region of subtle horrors, where pure, uncomplicated savagery was a positive relief, being something that had a right to exist – obviously – in the sunshine”. It was not until later that Marlow realized what his words had meant. It was not until later that Marlow became enlightened with the idea that the heart of darkness existed within the imperialistic hearts of those behind the civilizing mission. …