What makes one culture “civilized” and another “savage?” Is there a standard for a culture to be truly civilized? Marlow once said, “In some inland post feel the savagery, the utter savagery, had closed round him--all that mysterious life of the wilderness that stirs in the forest, in the jungles, in the hearts of wild men.” There are many cultures and between those cultures there are certain distinctions that make them “civilized” or “savage.” It’s is only according to one’s perspective that one can decide whether a society can be deemed “civilized” or “savage.
Through the eyes of the world, the culture that establishes and adapts itself the best is usually deemed “civilized.” These civilized cultures then form a system in society on how everything is ran. A military and government is then set up. Through the government and the military, strength is built and expansion of the culture occurs. Through this expansion, ...view middle of the document...
As a result of the organization of the dominant society, power is an aspect that comes with the built society. That is the major difference between the Belgium and The Congo in Heart of Darkness. Belgium was the more advanced society during that time and was looking for valuable resources. Belgium was given The Congo by the Berlin Conference during the scramble for Africa: “...and by-and-by I learned that, most appropriately, the International Society for the Suppression of Savage Customs had intrusted him with the making of a report, for its future guidance,” (Part 2). Marlow mocked the Berlin Conference due to their unfair “scramble” for Africa. The countries of Africa did not have a say and thus showed their limited power in the decision.
Societies form opinions on other societies because they are different from their own. There is no possible way to deem a country as “civilized” or “savage.” It is all perspective. Every society has their own way of livings. Many cultures have their own taboos which are normal in their daily lives. Through the eyes of the world, the western societies tend to be looked at as “civilized” and many third world developing countries tend to be looked as “savage.” In Heart of Darkness London was seen as an emblem of enlightenment because it, “has been one of the dark places of the earth,” (Part 1). London was once too a “savaged” place before the Romans came in and “civilized” it.
The reason Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness blurs the lines between an “advanced” society and “primitive” society and a “civilized” society and a “savage” society is because there is always one’s own perspective on the society. This reoccurs throughout history and can be seen with The United States of America. At the end of Heart of Darkness, Kurtz dies and says his finals words: “The horror! The horror!,” (Part 3). The horror was not so-called “savages” of The Congo, but the people who colonized. America has colonized and has been affiliated with many other countries around the world. The act of colonization brings about the question on who really is the savage?