The image of the “savages” keeps reappearing in the text. The fireman is described as the “… savage who was a fireman… ” (p. 63) Here Marlow is expressing his view that all the natives are savages, even the ones Marlow considers decent. The image he describes “… and he had filed teeth, too, the poor devil, and the wool of his pate shaved into queer patterns and three ornamental scars of his cheeks” (p. 64) seems to apply to all natives. Marlow’s views about the natives seem to contradict each other, but he probably trying to say that the natives are seen as the savages from the outside are decent people on the inside.
From the information the book gives us we can make a valid comparison between natives and the Europeans. The Africans, on one hand, are uncivilized people, who actually have sense. On the other hand, the Europeans regard themselves as a superior race and all they want to do is conquer more territory. The third and final category contains only two members, those being the main characters Kurtz and Marlow. We have to classify them separately because the characteristics they have are unique compared to everyone else but similar to each other.
Marlow starts off as a normal European at the start of the book; however, he doesn’t follow the lead of the other Europeans. Instead Marlow relates more with the natives and feels a bond towards them. He becomes obsessed with idea of meeting Kurtz and this reflects his strange personality. The human characteristic Marlow is trying to show is very much open for discussion, but we can say that he hasn’t been drawn into the savagery that surrounds him like the rest of his colleagues. Kurtz, meanwhile, as Marlow puts it “… lacked restraint in the gratification of his various lusts. ” (p.
95) He is power-crazed and has totally lost his mind. One of the reasons Kurtz goes mad is because of all the brutality he sees around him. The other explanation is of course what most humans have in themselves, ambition, power hungry, and greed for money. Kurtz is basically a version of Marlow, but further down the line. Marlow is still in the early stages and given the time and exposure to the jungle conditions he would have become like Kurtz. We can see this because Marlow has this admiration for the natives and although he has no real intentions in collecting ivory this could have all changed given the time.
He also seems to be taking the same path Kurtz took and at one point Marlow almost idolized Kurtz. It was after he met Kurtz in person when he began to turn away from the path Kurtz took. Kurtz was a remarkable human being, a rare find. The fact that he turns back and admits all the evil he has done, right at the end of the book proves the point. Even though the book is full of all the evil of man there are quite a number of positive aspects. Marlow, for example, feels pity for the starving man with the white ribbon tied around his neck (p. 43).
He sees him when he first enters the company’s station and he gives the man a biscuit, as the man is almost dead. The disregard for the starving man demonstrates the lack of concern the other Europeans have for the natives. Marlow, meanwhile, shows that he actually has feelings. The Russian is another character who doesn’t get absorbed into all the savagery; he has no interest in the money or ivory in Africa, but “… he was gallantly, thoughtlessly alive…. glamour urged him on, glamour kept him unscathed. ” (p. 90) His life had no purpose and he is an example of what a typical human being is not like.
Heart of Darkness illustrates that we as humans are in no way perfect. We can make an overall judgment of the view of human nature only in a broad sense. We cannot narrow in on the specific details and make conclusions. The overall view is negative and that’s as far as we can go. Each character gives us a different sense of what the view really is. However, through the characters Conrad tells us that humans can be evil or do good deeds and what be become can have a lot to do with the atmosphere we live in and the people we live with.
The Europeans represent the dark side of human nature, while the natives represent the positive side. This is in a way contradictory to the outward appearance of the natives and the Europeans. What Conrad did achieve in exploring human nature using different characters was that he established that each of us are different and we cannot make generalized judgments which will apply for everyone. Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Joseph Conrad section. Download this essay Print Save Not the one? Search for