The Nature of the Western Civilization in “Two Visions in Heart of Darkness” by Edward W. Said

It would not be an exaggeration to suggest that “Heart of Darkness” is a piece of writing that sheds light on the nature of the Western civilization as well as the manner in which it treats other parts of the world. In spite of the fact that the ideas that were claimed in the text are no longer accepted and are even opposed to, it may be beneficial to examine the text as it presents them clearly.

Edward W. Said in his “Two Visions in Heart of Darkness” points out that there are two primary approaches that can be applied when reading the novella. One the one hand, the text “allows the old imperial enterprise full scope to play itself out conventionally” (Said 426). In other words, the text is an explicit example of what exactly the Europeans thought about their African counterparts; it captures the ideas perfectly and should be used as an example of colonialist thinking. On the other hand, Said claims that the text is “local to a time and place” (426). In other words, Conrad who lived in the times of colonialism could not perceive the world in any other way. That is why he must not be criticized for adopting that point of view for the ideas that are condemned today were widely promoted in the social environment. As a result, the text is the by-product of the era and cannot be read as a manifest of its ideas.

Personally, I think that the first view of the text in question that is mentioned by Said is closer to the truth. The major point to be mentioned here is that the main characters described in it are not only representatives of the Western civilization, they are also well-developed and well-educated. That is why their understanding of colonialism is not something that they readily accepted: they developed it based on their own experience. Speaking of the second idea, I believe that it is also legitimate since the author of the novella could not imagine the world without colonialism. Therefore, to a certain extent, it was the foundation of it or the lenses through which he viewed it. In other words, in the absence of any alternatively, it was logical for him to depict life as he saw it.

I would like to point out that the mindset that is described in “Heart of Darkness” is deeply insulting not only to the Africans, but the entire Western civilization. The major problem here is that while the Africans were able to get rid of the stigma of being underdeveloped, the Westerners, for some strange reason, are still seen as those who think that they are superior to other. So, it would be logical to think about the future development of the global society and accept those ideas that are likely to stay. However, it is also important to accept the past as it is. In other words, since “Heart of Darkness” was written when colonialism was the dominant ideology, it should be read as a text from that are, nothing less. Therefore, its value must not be reduced in any way.

Having examined all the points that were mentioned in the paragraphs above, it becomes clear that Said in his essay presents two different views on the text in question. The existence of these two alternative shows that the text is quite controversial and should be addressed with cautious by the contemporary people. However, a proper analysis of it is needed for it will shed light on the true nature of the Western civilization. That is why it is particularly valuable and is worth analyzing.

Works cited

Said, Edward W. Two Visions in Heart of Darkness.             http://internet.savannah.chatham.k12.ga.us/schools/wfhs/faculty/Bir/Shared%20Documents/Heart%20of%20Darkness%20Stuff/Two%20Visions%20in %20HOD.pdf.

The terms offer and acceptance. (2016, May 17). Retrieved from

[Accessed: December 10, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016.

[Accessed: December 10, 2022]

freeessays.club (2016) The terms offer and acceptance [Online].
Available at:

[Accessed: December 10, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: December 10, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: December 10, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: December 10, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: December 10, 2022]
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