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Heart of Darkness Characters and Analysis

Characters and Analysis

Marlow: Marlow is the philosophical and knowledge-seeking protagonist of Heart of Darkness. He shares many of the same qualities as a master storyteller, capable of using imagery and detail to draw his listeners into his stories. Even though Marlow shares many of the same prejudices as Europeans of his time, he has experienced enough of the world to begin to call to question the white man’s imperialism.

Kurtz: Kurtz is the chief of the Inner Station. He is a gifted musician and artist, known for his many talents and is a strong leader of men. He has a keen understanding of the power of words. Despite remaining some what of an enigma to those around him, he clearly asserts himself as a powerful influence on the people he encounters. To a fault, he has a willingness to cast aside the hypocritical rules that govern colonial conduct.

General manager:  The primary agent of the company in its african location, he is successful only because of a hardy constitution that has enabled him to outlive the competition. He is considered to be average and unremarkable, however, he has a strange ability to cause feelings of uneasiness in those around him.

Brickmaker: The brickmaker, whom marlow first encounters at central station, is the favorite employee of the manager and is thought to be a bit of a spy. He never actually makes any bricks, as he is always said to be waiting for some materials to arrive.

Chief accountant: A thorough worker, with a remarkable habit of staying tidy and presentable, despite the extreme squalor of the outer station. He is one of few colonials who appear to have accomplished much.

Pilgrims:  The oafish and  greedy workers of central station. They are referred to as pilgrims because they carry long wooden staves with them everywhere they go. They all desire appointment to a station so that they can trade ivory for profit, but none of them actually take any tangible steps towards achieving their goal.

Cannibals:  The natives hired to be the crew of the steamer, they are known to be reasonable and mild mannered. Marlow respects their calm acceptance of adversity and their ability to restrain themselves.

Russian trader: A russian sailor who has ventured to africa as a representative of a dutch company. His immature appearance and mannerisms allow him to exhibit the glamour of youthfulness and the audacity of adventure. He is devoted to kurtz’s teachings.

Kurt’s african mistress: A shockingly beautiful woman who appears on the shoreline when the steamer arrives and subsequently departs from Inner Station. She is seen as having an influence over Kurtz and the natives. The Russian trader suggests that she is someone who should be feared.