Heart of Darkness Questions and Answers
by Joseph Conrad

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In Heart of Darkness, how does Marlow change?

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Another significant change is Marlow 's perception of civilization and civilized human beings. As the other answers to this question suggest, Marlow begins as a young man with an idealistic view of imperialism as a civilizing force filling in the blank spaces of the map. His view of imperialism changes once he realizes that it is actually a corrupt moneymaking scheme that depends upon slavery and that drives its perpetrators mad. However, this critique of imperialism is also a subtle critique of civilization itself, or, at the very least, civilization as conceived by Western Europeans. While Marlow originally seems to think that civilization is a stabilizing force that harnesses and controls humanity's so-called "barbaric" qualities, he gradually realizes that the "civilizing" project of imperialism is, in fact, utterly barbaric, nothing more than a violent effort to forcibly steal natural resources from other people. Thus, Marlow's experience with imperialism causes him to realize that...

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