How does Conrad present the company and Marlow’s attitude towards its representatives? “Heart of Darkness”, clearly a novel before its time; shows the attitudes and behaviour of various people of different nature and their reactions to various events that take place during their physical and metal journey. Perhaps for the first time the reader is allowed to decide who is in the right and who is in the wrong due to the way in which Conrad describes this journey.
The character of Marlow (almost like Conrad himself), goes through his trip examining different people, and it is his thoughts and attitudes towards them which allows the reader to understand that the typical view of life and people is not the same in “the centre of the earth. ” The change in the style of writing that this novel brought to the world of literature in the early 20th century puts forward different attitudes towards respected people.
Therefore Marlow clearly shows what he thinks of the company and its representatives. One thing that is noticeable about Marlow from his attitude towards other people is that he judges them on what he sees, and not on their background or what they do. This is evident as he has completely different views on people working for the same company. This makes it even harder for the reader to interpret whether colonisers deserve respect or not. “I shook hands with this miracle,” “perhaps there was nothing within him”.
Although both this views describe the representatives of the company as unreal or almost dream-like, he portrays one as something miraculous and perhaps meaning something (not again someone) to be appreciated, and the other as hollow and inhuman as a “suspicion”. This can be further examined and proved by the difference in his tone when describing the accountant and general manger. When describing the general manger his tone is very critical and he speaks as though he his desperate to find as much points as he can that will undermine him.
He almost formulates a list of criticism about him, “He had no genius for organising, for initiative, or of the station”. He uses the similes “his glance fall on one as trenchant and heavy as an axe. ” Conrad’s use of these similes implies the force and the weight of this man’s personality, and hence Marlow’s view on what he thinks of him. On the other hand, he describes the accountant in a more positive way – evident from his more appreciative tone, representing his respect for him “I respected his collars. ”
Another significant comparison between Marlow’s attitude towards these two characters is that he describes the accountant in a more materialistic way, addressing his appearance and clothing, “high starched collar, white cuffs, a light alpaca jacket, snowy trousers, a clear necktie, and varnished boots… ” His detail description, constant use of comas and on going sentences portray his need to describe the accountants character, and show how Marlow tries to prove his point. His point being that the facts described were an “achievement of character.
” Conrad uses the light and white imagery a lot to describe the accountant portraying the difference in colour as well as calling him “a vision” as though he does not fit in – not because of his personality or attitude but due to his colour. It is the accountant’s colour which stands out by the constant reference to being dressed in white as oppose to the black imagery described by Conrad and addressed later on. It almost seems that it is due to the accountant’s materialistic value that Marlow respects him.
Or perhaps it may be that Marlow thinks the only way he can show off the man’s good qualities is by addressing his clothing. This may show the reader that Marlow understands how to encompass his listeners and how their mind works. As perhaps it is the listeners and Marlow who portray the greatness of man by his materialistic value – again showing Conrad’s view of colonisers. With the manager it is obvious that Marlow only notices his mental attitude and facial expressions, unlike the accountant. “He was common place in complexion, in feature, in manners, and in his voice.
” “His eyes, of the usual blue, were perhaps remarkably cold”. Marlow, who cannot stop describing the accountant almost struggles for words to portray the manager, “not a definite mistrust-just uneasiness-nothing more… hoe effective such a… a… faculty can be. ” The dashes and ellipsis show his pauses where he tries to fathom the character of this manager. When Marlow almost seems to shout “That was it! ” (shown by the exclamation mark) his excitement can be seen as he finally manages to understand the character. However, he still goes on as though he is undecided – seen by Conrad’s repetition of “Uneasiness…uneasiness-nothing more. ”
He criticises him using a satirical tone, “His position had come to him-why? Perhaps because he was never ill… Because triumphant health in the general rout of constitutions is a kind of power in itself. ” Here he undermines the entire company and not just the man, by the use of a rhetorical question, which also shows his eagerness to show that he understands the situation to his listeners. This may just be the case that Marlow changes his view of the company as he moves on through his journey-the journey of his own identity and self discovery.
His change in thoughts and emotions throughout the novel shows how he himself as a character changes due to the happenings he comes across. This is a major theme of the novel, as travelling into the “unknown”, and as described by Conrad and Marlow as the “darkness” can cause people to become mentally drained. Hence it may be that the change in opinion is due to Marlow’s unstable state of mind. This makes it extremely difficult for the listeners and readers to understand whether Marlow’s views are right or wrong.
He himself acknowledges this change, “I felt I was becoming scientifically interesting. However, all that is to no purpose. ” His isolation is also referred to constantly, “he, sitting apart. ” Again Conrad shows from his personal experiences the effect of the physical and mental journey. Marlow describes the manager as “uneasy”, which can directly be related back to him. It seems that Marlow gets frustrated as he cannot understand the manager, seen clearly from the over use of dashes and the language used by Conrad – “something stealthy-a smile-not a smile-I remember it, but I can’t explain.
” This frustration may be what caused Marlow to draw up a critical description of him. The fact that he describes the manager in a more mental and expressional way shows that although on the outside (like the accountant) the people of the company and the company itself may seem respectable an appreciative but the deeper you look into their mind and personality the more negative character will be found. Apart from the accountant and general manager, Marlow comes across other representatives of the company. He describes what and who he sees constantly as “unreal” and a “pretence”.
These words are deliberately used by Conrad to portray the veneer that the colonisers have and they really have no purpose and they are full of greed – “the only real feeling was a desire to get appointed to a trading-post where ivory was to be had, so that they could earn percentages. ” This perhaps overall shows that Marlow does not think very well of the Company and Conrad uses this to portray the company in a negative light. Conrad uses Marlow’s feelings to get his message across. Conrad’s use of negative abstract “evil” and verbs such as, “intrigued, and slandered and hated,” shows what Marlow thought of their personalities.
It is obvious that Marlow does like to look deep into these peoples mind to try and work out what is going on. This is seen by the constant questions he asks, “Who says that? ” “Why ought I know? ” This question also shows that he wants find out more about himself-dwelling deeper into his own heart and mind, as well as others. He describes a particular brick layer as a “papier-mi?? chi?? Mephistopheles,” a very striking image trying to show the man’s empty personality and again showing him not to have a soul being inhuman.
Conrad also describes the colonisers as “pilgrims”, used in almost a sarcastic way by him. As pilgrims go out of their way to achieve peace, purity and forgiveness and cleanliness, whereas Conrad uses it to show that instead the colonisers achieve “greed”, “evilness” and “hatred. ” Conrad constantly uses language such as “incredible,” “vision” and “dream”, in order to show that Marlow sees the whole experience as unreal-including the Company and its representatives. By doing this Marlow takes his listeners to another level of story telling, as Conrad does with the readers of the novel.
He portrays his words as an image and vision as impressionism, “do you see it? ” as opposed to ideas in writing. This makes it more imaginative and visually effective but at the same time much harder to interpret in worldly terms, which is perhaps why the novel ha many different interpretations. Conrad’s imagery of going “into the depth of darkness, and in return came a precious trickle of ivory,” shows the amount of effort put into colonising and the very little gain from it. This sums up the nature and cost of exploitation as well a Conrad’s view of colonising.