How Does The Harlequin Affect Marlow's Journey

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Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad is a gripping tale that follows the main character, Charlie Marlow, on his journey through Africa. Not only does Marlow go on a physical journey, but a mental one as well. Throughout the story we see him change as a person, and the other characters of the novel largely affect how he changes. One of the characters of Conrad’s story is known as the Harlequin. Although the Harlequin seems to play a minor role in the plot, he does affect Marlow’s journey. In order to better understand the novel the reader must look further into the Harlequin’s background, his actual role, and symbolic roles in the story. Upon looking into these topics the reader can more clearly see how the Harlequin affects Marlow’s journey.…show more content…
The reader is told by Marlow that the Harlequin “...had run away from school…” (Conrad 291). From this quotation, the reader can determine that the Harlequin is not the smartest man. This plays into the Harlequin’s symbolic role in the story. The Harlequin speaks highly of Mr.Kurtz, and one of his symbolic roles is to make Kurtz seem more intelligent than he truly is. The Harlequin tells Marlow “...this man has enlarged my mind” (Conrad 291). This quotation means that the Harlequin believes that Kurtz is extremely intelligent. The reader will later discover that Kurtz was indeed rather intelligent before ivory took over his life. The other symbolic role of the Harlequin is to represent innocence. The reader is told he left school and often ran away. Marlow says “The glamour of youth enveloped and his parti-coloured rags, his destitution, his loneliness…” (Conrad 291). This quotation along with several others hint at the way that Marlow views the Harlequin as childish and innocent. To finalize, the Harlequin is used to make Kurtz seem smarter as well as represent innocence and childhood. These traits help keep Marlow from losing himself to the jungle, as Kurtz did, while on his
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