The Hypocrisy of Imperialism in 'Heart of Darkness'

2651 Words11 Pages
And indeed nothing is easier for a man who has, as the phrase goes, "followed the sea" with reverence and affection, than to evoke the great spirit of the past upon the lower reaches of the Thames...It had known and served all the men of whom the nation is proud, from Sir Francis Drake to Sir John Franklin, knights all, titled and untitled--the great knights-errant of the sea. (302) The unnamed narrator sits aboard a pleasure ship called the Nellie, along with four other men, including Marlow. The five men are held together by the bonds of the sea, yet are restless and meditative aboard the ship, waiting for something to happen. As darkness begins to fall, the men recall the great ships and explorers that have set forth from the Thames on…show more content…
Marlow, himself, claims to be well-aware that the Company operates for profit and not for the good of humanity, unlike the beliefs of his aunt and other Europeans. Marlow attributes this naïveté to propaganda and the fact that women do not live in the same world as men- as fragile creatures, they must be protected from reality. Marlow seems to identify female figures as representatives of home. For Marlow, this is negative, as home indicates knowledge that has been derived from books and religion, rather than from experience. However, "Heart of Darkness" is not thoroughly demeaning towards females, as the story includes many influential and powerful women. Marlow 's aunt, for example, was able to get him a job with the Company. In this section, Marlow also encounters two men who demonstrate the change that occurs within oneself while in Africa, due to exposure to the wilderness and colonial sites. Fresleven was Marlow 's predecessor in the Company, who, by European standards, was a good and gentle man. However, Marlow is sent to recover Fresleven 's bones from the centre of an African village, as he was killed violently after striking the village chief. This story indicates that either the European view of people is wrong and useless or that something in Africa makes men behave unusually. Such a transformation in character is supported by Marlow 's encounter with the Company
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