How does Marlow change throughout the novella Heart of Darkness?

Marlowe changes throughout Heart of Darkness as he grows to realize that imperialism is wholly evil. He is shattered by what he witnesses in the Congo. However, by the time he is telling the story to others on a boat on the Thames, he has distanced himself enough from his particular experiences to universalize them as typical of all imperialism across history.

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Marlow grows in awareness of imperialism's evil as he travels into the Belgian Congo. Notably, it is his aunt, a female, who helps him get the job. She believes Europeans are doing good by going to the Congo and bringing Christianity and civilization to the Native peoples.

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Marlow grows in awareness of imperialism's evil as he travels into the Belgian Congo. Notably, it is his aunt, a female, who helps him get the job. She believes Europeans are doing good by going to the Congo and bringing Christianity and civilization to the Native peoples.

Marlow is less naive than his aunt, but to some extent, he shares in her thinking until he has the shock of arriving in Africa. Once there, he realizes that Christian or civilizing influences have nothing to do with the European presence. The Native people are brutally and shockingly exploited, and the emphasis is on profit to a cruel degree. Kurtz's mad behavior has been tolerated thus far, because of the amount of profit he brings in.

Actually witnessing imperialism firsthand, Marlow is able to perceive that the system is evil to the core. He comes home shattered and changed by his knowledge, with a much more cynical view of mankind. It is particularly mankind that he condemns. At the end, when he goes to visit Kurtz's fiancee, he tells her a lie about Kurtz's last words, because he does not want to disillusion her and other women's conviction that Kurtz was doing noble work and bringing civilization to the Congo. It is important to him that European women stay innocent and believe in the lie that imperialism is a good.

As the story opens with the frame of Marlow talking to other sailors about the Congo as they sit in a boat on the Thames, Marlow asserts that the evils of imperialism are universal and points to the Roman conquest of Britain as equally brutal as the European conquest of Africa. This suggests that by this time, he is distancing himself from what happened and beginning to rationalize it. However, the power of his story is such that the reader comes away with a sense of horror and a less distanced perspective.

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Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness focuses on the journey that Marlow takes into the heart of Africa. It's a trip he's dreamt of taking his entire life. His opportunity comes when Kurtz, a trading station manager, needs to be rescued from the Belgian Congo.

As he journeys down the snake-like river into the deepest parts of the country, he encounters savagery and opportunities for corruption. Rather than the exciting and beautiful land he expected to find, the trip instead shows him how different, separate, and dark the world can be. By the time he finds Kurtz, he realizes that he has already been corrupted. Kurtz was sent to civilize the natives of the Belgian Congo and instead has become their savage leader.

Marlow, once carefree and excited to discover the world, is broken and disappointed by what he finds. His journey into Africa is very much his coming-of-age story. He enters the country a boy full of wonder and leaves a man, hardened by the harsh realities of life.

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Marlow is portrayed as an experienced sailor, who is introspective, wise, and philosophical. As he narrates the story about his adventures deep into the Congolese jungle, Marlow is compared to "a meditating Buddha," which suggests that he is an enlightened individual with supreme knowledge.

Before Marlow began his journey to Africa, he was a naive, enthusiastic young man, who was fascinated with the "blank spaces" on maps. Marlow ended up getting a job working for the Company and started his journey into the enigmatic, dangerous African forest. Along the way, Marlow witnesses firsthand the disastrous effects of imperialism and gains insight into the corrupt nature of the human soul. At the Outer Station, Marlow experiences the inefficiency of the Company and its disregard for human life. Marlow's description of the station illuminates the waste and lack of organization involved in imperial conquests. On his journey to meet the revered, mysterious Kurtz, Marlow interacts with selfish, nefarious individuals like the Accountant and the Manager, who are only focused on advancing in the Company.

When Marlow finally arrives at the Inner Station, he is disgusted to meet Kurtz, who has completely corrupted his soul while living in the depths of the Congolese jungle. Marlow learns about Kurtz's brutal raids, tyrannical leadership, and utter disregard for humanity. Following his expedition, Marlow develops into an enlightened, mature individual, who has negative opinions regarding imperial conquest and the nature of the human soul. Overall Marlow has become a wiser man with unique knowledge regarding "the heart of darkness" after he travels deep into the Congolese jungle and interacts with Kurtz.

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In Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, Marlow is rarely directly involved in the action of the story, and serves mainly as a narrator who relates the story of Kurtz's degradation. Be that as it may, Marlow does not escape the narrative unscathed, and he changes from an idealistic and excited young boy into a man hardened by the evils dwelling within the human heart.

Marlow tells us that he was passionate about maps as a young boy and dreamed of traveling to distinct locales, especially Africa. From this description, we can surmise that Marlow, like many young children, was idealistic and a touch naive. Moreover, we can assume that he considered traveling to be adventurous and full of excitement. By the time Marlow finds Kurtz and witnesses the man's death, however, things have changed. At that point in the story, Marlow has come to recognize the evil corruption governing the European presence in Africa, and he regards it with revulsion. That is not to say, however, that Marlow is entirely embittered by the end of the story. It would be more accurate to say that he regards exploration more realistically and no longer entertains naive boyhood fantasies. As such, we can see that, through the course of the narrative, Marlow matures considerably and is better equipped to view colonization from a critical point of view.

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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 European civilization, far from eradicating or controlling humanity's violent impulses, actually often relies upon said violent impulses. Accordingly, by the end of the narrative, civilization as a stable system of order is thrown into doubt, and Marlow realizes that "civilized" men are violent and lawless, though they hypocritically pretend that they carry out violence in the name of enlarging the civilized world.

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Marlow's change comes from within, a change in his idealism and his view of the people who work on the African river. At first, he is appalled by the squalor and disease present in the native people, and impressed by the Accountant, who keeps a proper, civilized appearance. However, as the story continues, he realizes that much of the horrors are endemic to the Imperialist mission itself; he sees a French ship firing into the underbrush with no actual target, and realizes that paranoia can drive men insane. Meeting Kurtz is the final blow to his belief system; Kurtz's total lack of empathy and his apparent insanity is contrasted with Kurtz's immense charisma and eloquence, showing Marlow that an educated and civilized man can have a "heart of darkness" and change under pressure. Without social norms, Kurtz's dark heart emerged and ruled his actions; Marlow sees that all men have the same potential, even himself, and his outlook is forever altered.

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