Character Analysis in the Heart of Darkness

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The corrupt will always win. This essay shows the comparative and contrasting aspects of two characters, the Brick maker from Heart of Darkness and Cap from The Lonely Londoners. They have been carefully chosen due to the simple fact that they are both “evil” characters in the novels. Both characters in each novel have different paths to follow, although they share a simple and clear world view, selfishness, their philosophies set them apart. The topics that will be discussed will focus on three elements that differentiate their outcome of their life, this includes concentrating on their work ethics, their innocence, and how petty each character is. Analyzing these three concepts determines the philosophy and world view the authors have captured for these two characters. In both novels the authors Joseph Conrad, of Heart of Darkness, and Sam Selvon, of The Lonely Londoners, introduce the characters that have a distinct essence, they show us the world they have created where a little perseverance and skill can take you, with minimal effort.

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The first concept we will look at is work ethics. Work is a fundamental element to life and a responsibility to ourselves in order to achieve any goal. Working gives us importance and self-discipline. Naturally it is understandable why the characters choose not to work. In the article “The Working Poor: Lousy Jobs or Lazy Workers?” Marlene Kim explains “Most Americans believe that if one works hard, one should not be poor. Yet the working poor are one of the fastest growing segments of the impoverished population…” Ultimately this means that the working population can remain in the poverty level. These characters choose to use every advantage they possess in order to succeed in life, they work for what they believe is worth their time and effort and chose not to work hard in other areas.

The brick maker in heart of darkness is a very interesting character with a very high standard in his world view for himself. He holds working and becoming a person of importance as a must his in life. We do not have much of a background to this character as we are introduced to him when he is already a manager. What could be seen in his world view is that working is his place to be. Although he doesn’t seem to be working at all, this fools the eye. It seems as if the brick maker holds working into a very high standard in his life, not wanting to let go of the power he possesses as manager, he dreams to achieve more in his life, more than what he is considered to be.

Cap in the Lonely Londoners gives us insight into a character we all love to hate and hate to love, the Nigerian captain or Cap. This character has a very singular way of thinking, it’s all about him and him only. The world views this character holds is to be royalty and should be treated as such. Many instances can be seen where he has been given everything he desires, both knowingly and unknowingly. This character’s background involves his family and an opportunity to study and sub sequentially given money, but due to his lack of responsibility he blew it all away and proceeded to use his charm to gain everything he had. Interestingly enough most characters understand how and who he is, and they continue to fund his lavish lifestyle. Cap does not want to succeed in life, as he just wants a place to live in and food to eat with endless funds.

Uniting both characters comes down to the way they work. Both the characters Cap and the Brick maker understand that they must achieve more in their life, they choose to do this by the expense of others. What brings these two characters to life, and allows us to understand their work ethics, is their ability to use their wit and charm to gain an advantage in life. The characters show their master mind way of flattery and underlying intention, as they do not flatter those that they do not find useful to them. They climb the wealthy ladder by means of using their smarts and charm to either deceive or to gain wealth in their life. Wealth does not only come from money as wealth can be happiness or in this case status over other individuals, making them very different.

The second concept is trust worthiness. How is a person trust worthy? Innocence is a key aspect as to how trustworthy a person can be. If we believe that a person is truly innocent, we can confide in that person. Innocence is a big role, we comprehend that one can do no wrong if innocent enough, as stated by the article Who is Presumed Innocent of what by whom? “The presumption of innocence enjoys worldwide recognition as a fundamental procedural guarantee and has acquired the status of a human right, as it is enshrined in international and regional human rights instruments and forms part of the written or unwritten constitutional law of many nations.” (Stuckenburg 2014). When a person loses their innocence, this can be any form of corruption, the trust soon follows. The Brick maker and Cap have different variants in their life that allows their identity to be seen within this single word.

The Brick maker in heart of darkness does not know the word of innocence. He is portrayed as always having something to hide, being called a spy, this given to him even by his co-workers. This character shows much ambition and promise, but due to an unknown reason he never produces any bricks. He boldly claims that he is waiting for some type of material that never arrives, making him a very useless character. Although he never produces what his name states, he has absolutely no problem in flattering personnel and deceiving those that are naïve enough to believe in him. He benefits himself and gives off a very peculiar vibe as he is the spy manager, he is the little voice in their head that allows others to do wrongful things. This character does not care to be innocent as he knows what he wants, that is to climb the status ladder. Never the less, he does not care for anyone else that he has already stepped over to achieve his life’s work.

The Nigerian captain in the lonely Londoners is far from innocent, yet a very well-mannered master manipulator. As the words roll off the chapters, we see that Cap is an “educated” man. The strength he possesses include common curtesy and most importantly his education is shown in how he is a gentleman, making him seem as an innocent character. The other characters in the book genuinely know of his lazy aspect in life and understand that he will betray them to benefit himself in a heartbeat. This still does not allow the other characters to hesitate to help him. As manipulative as he is, he maintains his innocent way of life priding himself on it.

Both characters understand who is important. The Brick maker will make exceptions to his uncaring attitude when he is given any opportunity to butter up any individual above him, but he uses this solely in the company he works for. Cap on the other hand does this to anyone he finds useful, no matter the status of the person, usually women. The similarities these two share, when it comes to innocence, is the sheer fact that they know how to use their words, who, what, and where is how they choose to do so. In fact, they choose to only do this when they can be perceived as innocent to the ones they are trying to manipulate continuously. What sets them apart is their targets.

Meanwhile, the third concept consists of personality and philosophy. Petty is a word that means small, in this case it means a very small way of thinking or a narrow way of viewing the world. A petty person wants others to suffer the way they do but does not wish well for anyone else including themselves. A petty individual has a pessimistic view in life, everything always happens to them, and anything that is good, they gruelingly made happen. This overruns the life and philosophy of any individual going through this phase, it is a sink hole of emotions.

Heart of darkness the brick maker is a dark character. Although he is ambitious and working with a very loose sense of the word, he has certain qualities that make him very unlikeable. The brick maker is a petty character that believes that everyone in the world is exactly like him. He believes that sucking up and flattering his higher ups will get him the position he wishes to achieve. As stated before, all he wishes to do is climb that company ladder. Everything he does is to benefit himself and he does not care to look around him and see the damage he helps cause. He is not aware that he is this way, but truly believes that everyone in the world is exactly like him.

Lonely Londoners’ Cap is a very happy go lucky character. He gets everything he desires but does not focus on the negative situations he created. Cap stumbles here and there but has qualities that make him a likeable character, he is fully aware of this. Cap is a character that uses his likeable abilities to capture the attention of different girls, hotels, and all the other characters as he nonchalantly deceives people in his life. He is not a character that becomes engulfed in his own world. Cap Is a character that takes each day as it comes. It seems as if he understands that he is a different character when reading the book, as he does not desire to achieve anything else other than to have his lavish grandiose lifestyle. Cap does not force characters to do wrongful things, that is only for him to do and for him to understand.

Considering the world view of both characters, none is better. Both characters offer the same concept but have different philosophies. The brick maker offers his philosophies of working hard to get what he wants with flattery and staying in a company, but ultimately, he is making this money for himself. He possesses a pessimistic philosophy. On the other hand, Cap from the lonely Londoners shows us what a little curtesy can achieve. Although it is very dishonest to use deceit but great manners to get what he wants, it shows how the population values human appreciation. It is unclear which worldview and philosophy is realistic as both of them are possible. In the long run of course. Perhaps the brickmakers’ world view is more realistic. As we analyze both characters, we can understand that there are people that kiss up to the boss and climb the corporate ladder. This person no matter how much or how little effort they put into their work, if they possess a silver tongue, they can definitely use those assets to work. Likewise, flattery is a huge trait to have, but it can only take you so far. Skipping on payment for hotels, and continuously taking money from family, friends, and lovers can land a person in a world of trouble. Realistically speaking a person could be taken care of for the rest of their life by a loved one, a partner, but it comes with rules… Cap does not have rules as he continues his bachelor life after he is married with no consequences, surely in a realistic setting he would lose everything especially his lavish lifestyle; Making the Brickmakers world view more realistic.

The world views that I believe in is a mixture of the both. I believe that both worldviews and philosophies make a lot of the corporate side of humanity. Without charm and wit, many corporations would not exist. Most of these people in this environment, although not the only environment, must keep a pessimistic view on the world as to continuously grow and reach higher for themselves. I believe that society believes in Caps’ world views. As movies and tv portray this extravagant lifestyle. That likeability that Cap provides, being a gentleman, is something incredibly rare, this helps us understand why many people don’t mind this behavior if it means being sweet talked over and over again. Society holds etiquette as a high standard of living as it was taught through the early 1800’s. According to Edwin Battistella, “Etiquette books like Martine’s addressed a wide range of topics, but as formal dinners became the signature demonstration of refinement, the dining room emerged as the center of etiquette and the woman of the house came to be the primary audience for guides. Aunt Matilda’s Short Hints on Etiquette, an 1887 promotional brochure by Philadelphia’s Dobbins’ Electric Soap Company, began by noting that manners were in a state of transition.” (Battistella 2009). There are many brickmakers in the world, it is called being in a cut throat industry, but the rarity of feeling good is king.

I believe that the very phew qualities Cap has illustrated, the world view he possesses makes the world a better place, but not necessarily a functional one. As society is tired of the fake managerial status they come by in a day to day process, we understand that these people are determined. This is a sadistic view, but many companies would not benefit without these types of people in it, people like the Brick maker. Although, I do believe that Cap teaches humanity something more valuable than the Brickmaker could. Cap focuses on achieving his goals and will not stop until he reaches them. No matter how it is achieved, if one does not stop even if mistakes are made, it is possible to achieve plenty with a little curtesy. It is important to understand that connections and relationships can help success in life. Being called a spy manager is negative, as no one trusts that person, no one wants to be with that person and it always feels like that person should not advance to their ultimate goal of ruling people. Although Cap has the same characteristics but has an optimistic point of view, he is very liked. On the opposite side of the spectrum, it is a very hard life as a pessimist. As stated by Gesualdi Louis “Although it can be argued that having an offender participate and complete a program (of any type) can be a signal that an individual is serious about change, it also can send the wrong signal if that offender continues to engage in criminal behavior.” (Louis 2009). It is very hard to change a person that does not desire to change. If any individual, in this case criminals from the quote above, are not corrected they will continue their negative behavior. These characters, Cap and the Brick maker, are prime examples of this.

In conclusion both world views have benefits and unprecedented troubles that come with them. Understandably one cannot work without the other as both qualities of the characters are needed for society to function and learn from. They may not be the best characters in the book, but they have passion. One is passionate about status. The other is passionate about living a good life no matter what he needs to give up if only temporarily. The world views that these two characters have comes down to their train of thought and what actions they do to defer any negative thought or attitude.

Works cited

Battistella, Edwin. “The Yardstick of Manners.” Society, vol. 46, no. 4, July 2009, p. 363. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1007/s12115-009-9223-8.

Louis Gesualdi. “Corrections in the Community Edward J. Latessa Harry E. Allen.” International Social Science Review, no. 3/4, 2002, p. 218. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edsjsr&AN=edsjsr.41887113&site=eds-live&authtype=ip,uid&CustID=s6735259.

Marlene Kim. “The Working Poor: Lousy Jobs or Lazy Workers?” Journal of Economic Issues, no. 1, 1998, p. 65. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edsjsr&AN=edsjsr.4227278&site=eds-live&authtype=ip,uid&CustID=s6735259.

Samuel Selvon. The lonely Londoners. Burnt Mill, Harlow, Essex, England : Longman, 1987 printing, ©1956.

Stuckenberg, Carl-Friedrich. “Who Is Presumed Innocent of What by Whom?” Criminal Law & Philosophy, vol. 8, no. 2, June 2014, pp. 301–316. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1007/s11572-013-9230-0.

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, North America: Palgrave Macmillan, Published 1899. 

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Character Analysis in The Heart Of Darkness. (2021, Jun 02). Retrieved December 1, 2022 , from
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