1. The use of savagery is meant to contrast the civilized nations with the undeveloped nations of the late nineteenth century. In the beginning of the story, Marlow states, “Sandbanks, marshes, forests, savages,—precious little to eat fit for a civilized man, nothing but Thames water to drink.” Alluding to the Congo and her uncivilized people, Marlow embarks by stating this, only to change his mind as he continues down the river. As he penetrates deeper into the heart of darkness, Marlow is confronted with the true meanings of civilized and savage. This quote is used to draw one of the first contrasts in the book between the supremacy of the Europeans and the inferiority of the savages. The thought of drinking the extremely polluted Thames
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The Europeans colonizing Africa say they strive for equality and a better way of life, but only leave destruction in their wake. The natives are the true civilized people abstaining from natural impulses; they are able to be self-sufficient. They do not attack and devour the Europeans because they realize there will be retaliation against them, and that the Europeans have superior weapons. This thought process clearly demonstrates that they have restraint. While in contrast, the Europeans will bomb a cliff for no apparent reason, except to destroy Africa and replace her with European ideals and materials. The Europeans never once display the thought processes and restraint that the savages have shown. This realization will haunt Marlow’s journey. His initial moralistic ideals are beginning to falter in their foundations.
3. The comparison of savages and animal behavior allows Marlow to withdraw his sympathies. “They were dying slowly—it was very clear. They were not enemies, they were not criminals, they were nothing earthly now—nothing but black shadows of disease and starvation, lying confusedly in the greenish gloom.” When Marlow sees the natives as men, he begins to feel sympathy for them, even offering one a water cracker in an effort to prolong the slave’s life. When the natives are men, Marlow is more sympathetic to their struggles. He qualms the Europeans handling of the