Throughout his narrative in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, Charlie Marlow has a chance to encounter the indigenous peoples of Africa. Marlow sees them as poor, devastated savages or in other words, the Other, using many racial and degrading terms to describe the appearances of these local people. These horrifying, cruel depictions of the black Congolese coming from Marlow reveal to readers that the cultural and racial biases of colonialism create a sense of dehumanization.
Conrad describes Africa through the perspective of Marlow who tend to depict all the natives as savages. Many existing elements align themselves with colonialist discourses of savagery and brutality, particularly its representations of black African characters. The Congolese are primarily figured in relation to their bodies and physicality. One of the primary representations of black characters in the novel is their characterization as embodiments of the wilderness. The first recognition of this embodiment is the ways in which the Congolese are personified as "a treacherous appeal to the lurking death, to the hidden evil, to the profound darkness of its heart" (Conrad 33) and their faces as the face of a gloomy forest. In these descriptions, the wilderness is placed together with words such as evil and death, despair and gloom, locating it as not only the enemy, but also as a site of death for anyone who enters it. The Natives who embody it, on the other hand, are considered "dead in the center" (Conrad 15). To Marlow, these people are living dead and, of course, not fully human. They are considered traitorous creatures that are gradually becoming the symbol of darkness and beginning to betray their masters – the Europeans. If the wilderness is given physical features, it is also given the capacity for human sound: "The bush began to howl" (Conrad 45) and "The tumult of angry and warlike yells was checked instantly and then from the depths of the woods went out such a tremulous and prolonged wail of mournful fear and utter despair" (Conrad 46).