British seaman whose childhood obsession with Africa has brought him into the folds of the Company where he can live his dream to journey to Africa. Marlow has a philosophical mind that is not easily swayed by the thoughts of others and a skepticism of the people around him, as the protagonist he is eloquent and a master storyteller. As a seaman, Marlow is able to see the effects of imperialism for what it is and because of that holds it like he regards those around him --with skepticism. The more Marlow delves into the Congo to find the one man who seems to have all the answers, Marlow discovers more and more about the place he is from, the place where he is going, and his own darkness.
Chief of the Inner Station -the best and most glorified station. And like the station, Kurtz is the best and most glorious man in the Congo. HIs great prowess and elegance with the Native is what attracts Marlow to seek him out. But Kurtz has a very dark and dangerous side --his passion for ivory and claiming things drives him to become a type of violent god to the Natives. His destructive tendencies and volatile attitude plays a large role in his own destruction and in Marlow realizing his own darkness.
A very odd man of little notice to say in the least. Due to his high resistance to disease he is able to make his worth by outliving the other managers and workers which ensures his job. Somehow though he is able to make people feel unsettled by his mere presence which is also how he gets people to do as he say --the sooner they accept the demand the sooner Mr. Unsettling Creepy goes away.
A petty character, he is someone's spy. Very lazy or maybe even bad at his job, the brickmaker never produces any bricks. All he does is try to pry information out from the other characters (in fact he plagues Marlow very badly). He is often described with imagery that could be used to describe the Devil, this gives insight into his treacherous character.
Kurtz unofficial apprentice, the Russian is more of a fool than apprentice --even his motley of colored clothes suggest this. Even though he has been threatened with various forms of death by Kurtz the Russian is faithful and stays by his side (even nursing him once or twice). By observing Kurtz and holding the very rare "safe" talks with Kurtz, the Russian claims his mind has been enlarged by Kurtz. To the Russian, Kurtz is a man that is larger than life yet still within grasp.
While not an overtly great character, Kurtz's fiancee reinforces several ideals of Marlow. Firstly that all women are naive. Kurtz's fiancee sees Kurtz in a very idealized and infatuated image of Kurtz. Most of her importance comes from the associations with light and heaven. Much of the Heart of Darkness revolves about shadows and darkness but much of it also revolves around the light that either fades from it or shines through it. Kurtz's fiance in her way a beacon of light for Kurtz during his more sane time in the Congo.
First depicted as wild, unruly, uncivilized, and most definitely not rational creatures as Marlow tells his story and goes through his memories, it becomes evident that the cannibalistic natives have respect, are civilised, are very much rational creatures, far more helpful than the Pilgrims, and are not as wild and unruly as first thought.
An extremely lazy lot that thinks they can get promotions if just walk around with their wooden staves and beating on the Natives. During Marlow's navigation of the Congo River towards the Inner Station the reader and Marlow both realize the incivility and selfish behavior of this lot. It is their ill actions (or lack thereof) that has Marlow question just how civil and advanced are the Pilgrims (and the rest of the Company) in comparison to the Natives,