Characteristic of Marlow and Kurtz in Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Topics: Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad, Belgium Pages: 3 (1040 words) Published: October 24, 2010
Charlie Marlow
Marlow is the protagonist of the story, who ventures to Africa looking to sail a steamboat, but finds much more. The only physical description of Marlow is this: Marlow sat cross-legged right aft, leaning against the mizzen-mast. He had sunken cheeks, a yellow complexion, a straight back, and ascetic aspect, and, with his arms dropped, the palms of his hands outwards, resembled an idol (Conrad1615). Marlow was a professional seaman and the captain of the Congo Rive Steamboat. He seems to possess a good work ethic: working hard is a means of achieving sanity. Marlow dislikes lies and therefore tells only two of them, both in extraordinary circumstances. In the middle of the story, Marlow interrupts himself to say, “You know I hate, detest, and can t bear a lie, not because I am straighter than the rest of us, but simply because it appalls me. There is a taint of death, a flavor of mortality in lies- which is exactly what I hate and detest in the world-what I want to forget. It makes me miserable and sick, like biting something rotten would do.” (1633). Marlow never vocalized a lie; he simply allowed others to continue to believe an untruth. First, the brick-maker thought Marlow was more influential than he actually was, and Marlow allowed him to continue to believe this. Secondly, the intended thought her fiancé was a good man so Marlow allowed her to continue to believe this also. As a child, Marlow had a passion for maps and it appears that he still does. He has a particular ambition to investigate the blank space of delightful mystery, indicating Africa, which was gradually being filled in with names and features as it was explored and colonized. For Marlow, the journey up the Congo becomes a pilgrimage to meet Kurtz, the man of reputedly brilliant talent and eloquence who sends down more ivory than all the company s other traders put together(90 Reilly). Gradually, as the people that Marlow despised began to defame Kurtz, he (Marlow) became...
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