The Character of Marlow in Joseph Conrad’s Heart o

f Darkness Heart Darkness essaysThe Character of Marlow in The Heart of Darkness

The Heart of Darkness may just be the title of a book to some people, but I
believe that it goes much deeper than that. I think that this title
describes the books main character, Charlie Marlow. Throughout this story I
saw the many confusing and ever changing sides of Marlows character and his
heart of darkness.

Charlie Marlow appeared to be a man of great pride and civilization. He
always spoke very proper and was a classic example of a man of his time.
Throughout this novel though, this painted image I have of Marlow begins to
slowly drip away.

There were several instances where I was confused about Marlow. The first
one was at the very beginning of the story. Marlow began talking about his
childhood and how he had dreamed of becoming a captain or a skipper on one
of the glorious steamboats. He went on and on about it in such great detail
that you almost began to believe that he was a captain, though he was only
a young boy at the time. His determination and love seemed eternal, and
nothing was going to take his dream away from him. At least that is what we
were lead to believe. Marlow soon grew old and so did his dream. I slowly
saw the determination side of Marlow slipping away into the river along with
his childhood vision of being a captain. I didnt think that something like
age would stop Marlow from taking on this challenge. After he talked about it so
much you would think only death itself would stop him. Unfortunately, Marlow
gave up and decided to move on with his life. That was the way it was going
to have to be, or so he thought.

I saw Marlow as a seemingly comfortable old man now. He didnt have his
dream job, but he was still well off. One day though Marlows fantasy job
basically just fell into his lap. A steamboat captain was killed and Marlow
was not about to let another soul take this job away from him. He was fixed
to get the job, but wasnt sure how to get it himself This is where I start
to get even more confused with Marlow.

Marlow didnt want to have to work to get the job, so he asked his Aunt to
get the job for him. This struck me as very odd considering the way that
Marlow felt about women. He felt that women should just do there own little
house chores and nothing else, for they werent needed and basically would
just be in the way. After asking his Aunt to get him the job he made a
comment that really made me angry. Marlow stated, “Then-would you believe
it?-I tried the women. I, Charlie Marlow set the women to work-to get a job.
Heavens! Well, you see it was the notion that drove me.” ( Conrad 4 ) This
is the point in the story that I find Marlow to be rather lazy. If he had
been so manly and wise dont you think that he could have gotten the job
himself? I do. Of course his Aunt came through for him and Marlow was off
to roam the river of his desire.

Throughout the rest of this story Marlow just continues to confuse and at
some times even frustrate me. There was one point in the story that Marlow
almost seemed to have a heart. He saw a homeless man and stared at him,
started to feel a bit sorry, but quickly caught himself almost as if having a conscience was a bad thing.
This is where I saw a big part of Marlows heart of darkness.

Another thing that really bothered me about Marlow was how he got so caught
Up in the image of Kurtz, even though he didnt even know him. I didnt think a
man like Marlow would be a follower, but that just turned out to be another
side of Marlow that I would begin to know. He began to lose sight of
everyone around him and concentrated on just the illusion and image of a man
that he had never even seen.

Now that I have read this story I do not like Marlow at all. He is a self
centered, and cold hearted man. He didnt care about anything or anyone
around him, except for the people that could give him something in return.
Maybe I didnt get to what I was supposed to get out of this book, but I
did get that Marlow is an extremely puzzling character. I know that people
have many sides to them, but Marlow seemed to change so fast and drastic. I
do however think that it was a good decision on Conrads part to make Marlow
so dimensional. It really added a lot of interest to the novel. It almost
kept you on your toes, because you never knew what type of character
transformation Charlie Marlow was going to under go next.

Works Cited
Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. W.W. Norton and Company: New York, New York.1988


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