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Analizing Marlow

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Introduction

Jason Chernenko Lit 219W, Sec. S1 Essay #1 Marlow and his Confusing and Ever Changing Sides Marlow is the protagonist in Heart of Darkness and is throughout the novel, mostly the narrator. He takes the place of a riverboat captain who died from a scuffle with the natives. In the beginning of the novel, he does not expect the experiences he was going to receive. Throughout the story Heart of Darkness, the main character, Marlow, demonstrates a range of character traits; he is at first ambitious, adventurous, and curious next he is sexist and outspoken, and finally he shows that he is ambiguous and sympathetic. Right from the very beginning of the story, Marlow's curious and adventurous side is apparent. Marlow is a sailor who is employed by an English trading company and sent to an African colony. There he travels up the river, visiting the trading stations who barter for ivory with the natives. On his journey, he hears about a man named Kurtz, whose station is the one furthest up the river, deep in the African jungle. Some talk of Kurtz in awe, others admire Kurtz, but they all seem to fear him. He journeys through the Congo, trying to find the man called Kurtz. ...read more.

Middle

He sees them as the weaker sex and believes that they should be kept safe from the harsh factors of reality. In the story Heart of Darkness, Kurtz's house maid is the only African woman that is introduced in the story. She is looked upon as a different sort of object; she is the object of sexual desire. She is described with animalistic qualities by Marlow: "She walked with measured steps, draped in striped and fringed clothes, treading the earth proudly, with a slight jingle and flash of barbarous ornaments" (Conrad 55). She is not physically described with human qualities, but as more of an exotic beast-like creature. Another intrinsic part of Marlow's character is that he is an outspoken individual. He frequently uses terms such as "nigger" throughout the story Heart of Darkness but at the same time he is very sympathetic towards the natives. Marlow's racism can be seen as a product of Victorian society; he is completely unaware that he is being offensive. Like a typical English gentleman, he regards anywhere but England as practically savages and looks down upon them. The passage he points out well explains this reference: "And between whiles I had to look after the savage who was fireman. ...read more.

Conclusion

A last characteristic trait of Marlow is that he is a very sympathetic character. There is something very believable about Marlow, in his observation of 'darkness' or 'evil' he is sympathetic towards the natives and disapproves of their treatment but at the same time he is reluctant to physically act upon his convictions and stand up for what he truly thinks. Marlow has sympathetic feelings for the natives. In the story Heart of Darkness, Marlow says, "their pure, uncomplicated savagery was a positive relief, being something that had a right to exist-obviously-in the sunshine" (Conrad 98-99). The reader can even interpret this passage as Marlow being sympathetic to the freeing of the natives from Kurtz's fetters. This passage reminds the reader to the 30 cannibals on Marlow's ship who had restraint. It is the only time that Marlow recognizes restraint in the natives. The group of natives least affected by imperialism was the group that impressed him. In addition, Marlow says, referring to the Helsman, "had no restraint, no restraint-just like Kurtz-a tree swayed by the wind" (Conrad 86). Conrad is telling his audience that the more people are exposed to imperialism, the more they depart from their traditional restraints. Kurtz and the helmsman are both relying more on instinct than restraint. ...read more.

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