The character of Marlow in the novel Heart of Darkness

Question: Discuss the character of Marlowe in the novel Heart of Darkness.

Or, Comment on the role of Marlowe in the novel “Heart of Darkness”.


Charles Marlow is the protagonist of the novel “Heart of Darkness” by Polish-British Novelist Joseph Conrad (1857-1924). From an early age, he is interested in the world map and attracted mainly to the vacant, “undesirable” place on the continent of Africa. The whole plot of the novel is based on his journey from the outer station to the inner station. So, a critical analysis of his character will show his role in the novel.

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A spokesman

There are two protagonists in the novel – Charles Marlow and Mr. Kurtz. No one overshadows each other because they are equally treated by the novelist. But Marlow is the spokesman of the novelist. His experiences, feelings, actions, and reactions build up the plot of the novel complete one.

Fearless and dynamic

Marlow is a fearless and dynamic adventurer explorer. He becomes interested in the world map from an early age and dreams to go to the vacant undesirable region of Africa. Because of this, after a trip from India, he takes a job in a Belgian company that sends agents to Congo Africa to ivory. Marlow is appointed to take back the most successful agent of the company Mr. Kurtz to Europe for medical treatment. Thus, Marlow’s ambition is the central part of the novel.

Powerful observer and narrator

Marlow seems to be gifted with an exceptional power of observation and interpretation. He observes everything keenly and closely and depicts them faithfully and accurately. When he narrates about various characters whom he met, he shows his vast knowledge of human nature.

Psychologist cum philosopher

When Marlow depicts his reflections and reactions over the incidents and characters, he creates impressions within readers like a psychologist and philosopher. As a psychologist, he probes into the deep of the human mind, and as a philosopher, he has found out the inner truth of things that is why the novel has been named “Heart of Darkness”. His observation in the outer station where the black natives are chained to work according to the demand of the imperialists influences his philosophic notion. As a result, he declares that imperialism is robbery by dint of violence.

“They grabbed what they could get for the sake of what was to be get. It was just robbery with violence, aggravated murder on a great scale, and men going at it blind-as is very proper for those who tackle darkness”.

His observation of the manager of the central station and Kurtz is starkly like a psychologist.

Power of introspection

Marlow has a great potential capacity for exploring his own mind. In fact, Heart of Darkness is a document of Marlow’s exploration of his own mind as well as an exploration of the dark continent. He remarks about himself that he has a great destination for lies. But sometimes he tells lie to justify his cause. For example, when he tells lie to Kurtz’s fiancé that Kurtz uttered her name at the time of death, it makes the bereaved lady very and provides everlasting satisfaction. Such incidents are available in the novel from top to bottom of the novel.

A symbolic figure

Marlow not only narrates the story but also a symbol. He symbolizes the spirit of adventure and a lover of exploration. He also symbolizes a metaphysical or psychological journey to the unexplored region of Africa.

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Thus, we see that Marlow is a life-like who is Vivid, accurate, humorous, and solemn plays a pivotal role in the novel “Heart of Darkness”.

S Ridoy Kumar
S Ridoy Kumar
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