Marlow the Narrator

  • Bernard J. Paris


I have tried to show that Marlow in “Heart of Darkness” is not simply a voice, a literary device, or a purely functional character who is what he is and does what he does in order to perform his formal and thematic roles. He is a functional character, to be sure; but his decision to go to the Congo and his responses and relationships there are expressions of his personal psychology. He is not a static figure, as some have contended, for the Marlow who tells the story is significantly different from the man who went to the Congo, much as Marlow the narrator in “Youth” is quite distinct from the young second mate. An important difference between the two works is that whereas in “Youth” we cannot trace the narrator’s attitudes to anything that occurred in the story, in “Heart of Darkness” they seem in large part a product of the experience he recounts. In the latter, there is a closer connection between the tale being told and the narrator’s motivations for telling it, and Marlow’s interactions with his auditors are much more complex.


Functional Character Thematic Role Communal Perspective Silly Dream Lunatic Asylum 
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Copyright information

© Bernard J. Paris 2005

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  • Bernard J. Paris

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